History of Diving & NOAA Contributions


1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5

GENERAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-1 FREE (BREATH-HOLD) DIVING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-1 DIVING BELLS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-1 HELMET (HARD-HAT) DIVING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-2 SCUBA DIVING. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-3 SATURATION DIVING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-4 1.5.1 Saturation Diving Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-4 1.5.2 Habitats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-5 1.5.3 Lock-Out Submersibles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-5 1.6 NOAA’S DIVING PROGRAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-5 1.7 UNDERSEA AND DIVING RESEARCH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-6 1.8 SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-6

History of Diving & NOAA Contributions
Divers have penetrated the oceans throughout the centuries for purposes identical to those of modern diving: to acquire food, search for treasure, carry out military operations, perform scientific research and exploration, and enjoy the aquatic environment. In a brief history of diving, Arthur Bachrach identified major principal periods in the history of diving: free (or breath-hold) diving, bell diving, surface support or helmet (hard-hat) diving, scuba diving, and saturation diving (Bachrach 1982). This chapter also describes the formation and contributions of NOAA’s Diving Program and the National Undersea Research Program.


Free diving, or breath-hold diving, is the earliest of all diving techniques, and it has played a historic role in the search for food and treasure. The Hae-Nyu and Ama pearl

divers of Korea and Japan (see Figure 1.1) are among the better-known breath-hold divers. In his book, Half Mile Down, William Beebe (1934) reports finding several mother-of-pearl inlays in the course of conducting an archeological dig at a Mesopotamia site that dated back to 4500 B . C . These shells must have been gathered by divers and then fashioned into inlays by artisans of the period. Beebe also describes the extensive use of pearl shells among people from other ancient cultures. The Emperor of China, for example, received an oyster pearl tribute around 2250 B.C. Free divers were also used in military operations, as the Greek historian Thucydides reports. Divers participated in an Athenian attack in which they cut through underwater barriers that had been built to obstruct and damage the Greek ships. Free or breath-hold divers sometimes used hollow reeds as breathing tubes, which allowed them to remain submerged for longer periods; this type of primitive snorkel was useful in military operations.

The second principal historical mode of diving is bell diving. One of the earliest reports of the use of a device that enabled a diver to enter the water with some degree of protection and a supply of air involved the diving bell Colimpha used in Alexander the Great’s descent in approximately 330 B.C. Aristotle described diving systems in use in his time: “They contrive a means of respiration for divers, by means of a container sent down to them; naturally the container is not filled with water, but air, which constantly assists the submerged man.” In the 1500 years following this period, very few developments occurred in diving. It was not until 1535 that an Italian developed a device that can be considered a true diving bell. This open bell designed by Guglielmo de Lorena actually worked. A diver worked for about an hour exploring the bottom of Lake Nemi, Italy, for the purpose of locating Trajan’s pleasure barges. In 1551, Nicholas Tartaglia published an ingenious but impracticable design (see Figure 1.2) for a diving apparatus considered to be an open bell. It consisted of a wooden frame like

FIGURE 1.1 Female Ama Diver


FIGURE 1.2 Open-Water Diving Bell (Circa 1551) that of a gigantic hour-glass to which a heavy weight was attached by a rope. A man standing in the frame, with his head enclosed in a large glass ball, open only at the bottom, was to wind himself down to the sea-floor by turning a windlass on which the rope was coiled. What he could do when he got there is not very clear. In 1691, the astronomer Sir Edmund Halley, then Secretary of the Royal Society, built and patented a forerunner of the modern diving bell, which he later described in a report to the Society. As Sir Edmund described it, the bell was made of wood coated with lead, was approximately 60 cubic feet (1.7 cubic meters) in volume, and had glass at the top to allow light to enter; there was also a valve to vent the air and a barrel to provide replenished air. It has been thought that Halley undoubtedly knew of a development reported by a physicist, Denis Papin, who in 1689 had proposed a plan to provide air from the surface to a diving bell under pressure. Papin proposed to use force pumps or bellows to provide air and to maintain a constant pressure within the bell. There was speculation that Halley’s choice of the barrel rather than the forced air method of replenishment may have reflected Halley’s concern that Papin, also a Fellow of the Royal Society, would accuse him of stealing his concept. Halley’s method was used for over a century until John Smeaton introduced a successful forcing pump in 1788. In 1799, Smeaton dived with his “diving chests,” which used a forcing pump to replenish the air supply. Diving bells are used today as part of modern diving systems, providing a method of transporting divers to their work sites while under pressure and, once at the site, of supplying breathing gas while the diver works. Both modern-day open (or “wet”) and closed bells are clearly the successors of these ancient systems.

FIGURE 1.3 KlingertÕs Apparatus (Circa 1797)

Although these early diving bells provided some protection and an air supply, they limited the mobility of the diver. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a number of devices were developed to provide air to divers and to afford greater mobility. For example, a German named Klingert published in 1797 a design for a complete diving helmet and dress (see Figure 1.3). The diving helmet obtained air by means of a twin breathing-pipe led into the helmet opposite the diver’s mouth and was supported at the surface by a float. However, no details were given on how the air was “pumped” to the diver at depth. Unfortunately, most of these devices were not successful because they relied on long tubes from the surface to provide air to the diver and thus did not deal with the problem of equalizing pressure at depth. The first real step toward the development of a surfacesupported diving technique occurred when the French scientist Sieur Freminet devised a system in which air was pumped from the surface with a bellows, allowing a constant flow of air to pass through a hose to the diver in the water. This system is considered by many to be the first true helmet-hose diving apparatus. Freminet has been credited with diving in 1774 with this device to a depth of 50 feet (15 meters), where he remained for a period of one hour.


NOAA Diving Manual

still the most widely used commercial diving method. The use of mixed gas and the development of improved decompression tables have extended the diver’s capability to work in these depths. Although surface-supported diving has several advantages in terms of stability, gas supply, and length of work period, a major problem with this type of gear is that it severely limits the diver’s mobility. This limitation has been overcome in certain dive situations by the development of the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba).

The development of the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) provided the free-moving diver with a portable air supply which, although finite in comparison with the unlimited air supply available to the helmet diver, allowed for mobility. Scuba diving is the most frequently used mode in recreational diving and, in various forms, is also widely used to perform underwater work for military, scientific, and commercial purposes. There were many steps in the development of a successful self-contained underwater system. In 1808, Freiderich von Drieberg invented a bellows-in-a-box device that was worn on the diver’s back and delivered compressed air from the surface. This device, named Triton, did not actually work, but it did serve to suggest that compressed air could be used in diving, an idea initially conceived of by Halley in 1716. In 1865, two French inventors, Rouquayrol and Denayrouse, developed a suit described as “self-contained.” In fact, their suit was not self-contained but consisted of a helmet using a surfacesupported system with an air reservoir that was carried on the diver’s back and was sufficient to provide one breathing cycle on demand. The demand valve regulator was used with surface supply largely because tanks of adequate strength were not yet available to handle air at high pressure. This system’s demand valve, which was automatically controlled, represented a major breakthrough because it permitted the diver to have a breath of air when needed in an emergency. The demand valve played a critical part in the later development of one form of scuba apparatus. However, since divers using scuba gear exhaled directly into the surrounding water, much air was wasted. One solution to this problem was advanced by Henry Fleuss, a merchant seaman who invented a closed-circuit breathing apparatus in 1879 that used pure oxygen compressed to 450 psig for the breathing gas supply and caustic potash to purify the exhaled oxygen. Although his rebreather could be used under certain conditions, the depth limitations associated with the use of pure oxygen directed most attention to compressed air as a breathing mixture. In the 1920s, a French naval officer, Captain Yves Le Prieur, began work on a self-contained air diving apparatus that resulted in the award of a patent in 1926, shared with his countryman Fernez. This device was a steel cylinder

FIGURE 1.4 Earliest Functional Helmet (Circa 1823)

The first major breakthrough in surface-support diving systems occurred with Augustus Siebe’s invention of the diving dress in 1819. Around the same time, John and Charles Deane were working on a design for a “smoke apparatus,” a suit that would allow firefighters to work in burning buildings. They received a patent for this system in 1823, and later modified it to “Deane’s Patent Diving Dress,” consisting of a protective suit and a separate helmet with ports and hose connections for surface-supplied air (see Figure 1.4). Siebe’s diving dress consisted of a waist-length jacket with a metal helmet sealed to the collar. Divers received air under pressure from the surface by force pump; the air subsequently escaped freely at the diver’s waist. In 1837, Siebe modified this open dress, which allowed the air to escape, into the closed type of dress. The closed suit retained the attached helmet but, by venting the air via a valve, provided the diver with a full-body air-tight suit. This suit served as the basis for modern hard-hat diving gear. Siebe’s diving suit was tested and found to be successful in 1839 when the British started the salvage of the ship Royal George at a depth of 65 feet (19.8 meters). No major developments occurred in hard-hat gear until the twentieth century, when mixed breathing gases, helium-oxygen in particular, were developed. The first major open-sea use of helium and oxygen as a breathing mixture occurred in the salvage of the submarine, USS Squalus, in 1939. The breathing of mixed gases such as helium-oxygen permitted divers to dive to greater depths for longer periods than had been possible with air mixtures. The surface-supported diving technique is probably

History of Diving & NOAA Contributions


containing compressed air that was worn on the diver’s back and had an air hose connected to a mouthpiece; the diver wore a nose clip and air-tight goggles that undoubtedly were protective and an aid to vision, but did not permit pressure equalization. The major problem with Le Prieur’s apparatus was the lack of a demand valve, which necessitated a continuous flow, and thus a waste of gas. In 1939, Dr. Christian Lambertsen began the development of a series of three patented forms of oxygen rebreathing equipment for neutral buoyancy underwater swimming, which became the first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus successfully used by a large number of divers. The Lambertsen Amphibious Respiratory Unit (LARU) formed the basis for the establishment of U.S. military self-contained diving. This apparatus was designated “scuba” by its users. An equivalent self-contained apparatus was used by the military forces of Italy and Great Britain during World War II and continues today. The rebreathing principle, which avoids waste of gas supply, has been extended to include forms of scuba that allow the use of mixed gas (nitrogen-oxygen or helium-oxygen mixtures) to increase depth and duration beyond the practical limits of air or pure oxygen breathing. A major development in mobility in diving occurred during the 1930s when French inventor, de Corlieu developed a set of swim fins, the first to be produced since Borelli designed a pair of claw-like fins in 1680. When used with Le Prieur’s tanks, goggles, and nose clip, de Carlieu’s fins enabled divers to move horizontally through the water like true swimmers, instead of being lowered vertically in a diving bell or in hard-hat gear. The later use of a single-lens face mask, which allowed better visibility as well as pressure equalization, also increased the comfort and depth range of diving equipment. In 1943, two other French inventors, Emile Gagnan and Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau, demonstrated their “Aqua Lung.” This apparatus used a demand intake valve drawing from two or three cylinders, each containing over 2,500 psi. Thus the demand regulator, invented over 70 years earlier and extensively used in aviation, came into use in a self-contained breathing apparatus that did not emit a wasteful flow of air during inhalation. This application made possible the development of modern open-circuit scuba gear. Scuba added a major working tool to the systems available to divers; it allowed divers greater freedom of movement and required much less burdensome support equipment. Scuba also enriched the world of sport diving by permitting recreational divers to go beyond goggles and breath-hold diving to more extended dives at greater depths.

Although the development of surface-supplied diving permitted divers to spend a considerable amount of working time under water, divers using such systems for deep and/or long dives incurred a substantial decompression obligation. The initial development of saturation diving by the U.S. Navy in the late 1950s and its extension by naval, civilian government, university, and commercial laboratories revolutionized scientific, commercial, and military diving. This technique provided a method for divers to remain at pressures equivalent to depths of up to 2,000 feet (610 meters) for periods of days or weeks without incurring a proportional decompression obligation. Divers operating in the saturation mode work out of a pressurized facility, such as a diving bell, seafloor habitat, or diver lock-out submersible. These subsea facilities are maintained at the pressure of the depth at which the diver will be working; this depth is termed the saturation or storage depth. The historical development of saturation diving depended both on technological and scientific advances. Engineers developed the technology essential to support the saturated diver, and physiologists and other scientists defined the respiratory and other physiological capabilities and limits of this mode of diving. Many researchers played essential roles in the development of the saturation concept, but the U.S. Navy team working at the U.S. Submarine Medical Research Laboratory in New London, Connecticut, is generally given credit for making the major initial breakthrough in this field. This team was led by two U.S. Navy diving medical officers, George Bond and Robert Workman, who, in the period from the mid-1950s to 1962, supervised the painstaking animal tests and volunteer human dives that provided the scientific evidence necessary to confirm the validity of the saturation concept. 1.5.1 Saturation Diving Systems The earliest saturation dive performed in the open sea was conducted by Edwin Link (founding father of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution) and his associates and involved the use of a diving bell for diving and for decompression. Initial Navy efforts involved placing a saturation habitat on the seafloor. In 1964, Edwin Link, Christian Lambertsen, and James Lawrie developed the first deck decompression chamber, which allowed divers in a sealed bell to be locked into a pressurized environment at the surface for the slow decompression from saturation. The first commercial application of this form of saturation diving took place on the Smith Mountain Dam project in 1965 and involved the use of a personnel transfer capsule. The techniques pioneered at Smith Mountain have since become standard in commercial diving operations; saturated divers live under pressure in the deck


NOAA Diving Manual

decompression chamber on board a surface vessel, and are then transferred to the underwater worksite in a pressurized personnel transfer chamber, also called a surface decompression chamber. Although saturation diving systems are the most widely used saturation systems in commercial diving today, two other diving technologies have also taken advantage of the principle of saturation, namely, habitats and lock-out submersibles. 1.5.2 Habitats Habitats are seafloor laboratories in which saturated diver-scientists live and work under pressure for extended periods of time. Habitat divers dive from the surface and enter the habitat, or they may be compressed in a pressure vessel on the surface to the pressure of the habitat’s storage depth and then be transferred to the habitat. Decompression may take place on the seafloor or in a surface decompression chamber after the completion of the divers’ work. The most famous and widely used habitat was NOAA’s Hydrolab which was based in the Bahamas and Caribbean from 1972 to 1985 and provided a base for more than 600 researchers from nine countries during that time. Hydrolab now resides at the NOAA campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. The Aquarius, a more flexible and technologically advanced habitat system, has replaced the Hydrolab as NOAA’s principal undersea research laboratory and is presently deployed in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. 1.5.3 Lock-Out Submersibles Lock-out submersibles provide an alternative method for diver-scientists to gain access to the underwater environment. Lock-out submersibles are dual-purpose vehicles that permit the submersible’s pilot and crew to remain at surface pressure, while the diver-scientist is pressurized in a separate compartment to the pressure of the depth at which he or she will be working. The lock-out compartment thus serves as a personnel transfer capsule, transporting the diver to and from the seafloor. Lock-out submersibles have seen limited use since the 1980s.

For over 40 years, NOAA and its predecessors have played a significant role in the development and support of scientific diving. Prior to the formation of NOAA in 1970, most of the non-defense dive activities centered in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey (C&GS) and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Commercial Fisheries (BCF). When NOAA was formed in October 1970, the C&GS and BCF became two of NOAA’s major line components with C&GS renamed the National Ocean Service and the BCF became the National Marine Fisheries Service

(NMFS). A new NOAA component was created that formed a series of Environmental Research Laboratories. In May 1971, these NOAA line offices met to develop operational and reporting requirements to promote safety and establish uniform diving regulations. A critical step to improve safety and versatility of manned undersea operations was the 1971 establishment of the Manned Undersea Science and Technology Program (MUS&T) to achieve a better understanding, assessment, and use of the marine environment. The major objectives included developing a NOAA civilian diving program as well as advanced ocean floor observatories and submersible systems. The MUS&T Program assumed responsibility for all NOAA diving activities including planning, administering, and overseeing the NOAA Diving Program (NDP). Significant accomplishments included the establishment of NOAA’s Diving Regulations, a Diving Safety Board, a Medical Review Board, and the preparation and publication of the first edition of the NOAA Diving Manual in 1975. A program was initiated in 1973 to develop fully equipped field centers of diving expertise which included recompression chambers for emergency treatment and medical training. Although the NOAA Diving Office was detached from the MUS&T program in 1979, the internal structure has been essentially unchanged. Present facilities include the NOAA Dive Center in Seattle, Washington, that has several recompression chambers and a 40,000 gallon controlled tank for equipment testing and training. Significant accomplishments include the development of a NOAA diver database to allow close monitoring of diver activity relating to certification maintenance. A standardized equipment program integrated with this diver database has resulted in dramatic cost savings and improved quality control and safety. Other significant developments included diving safety, physiology, and biomedical programs with the U.S. Navy, underwater fatality statistics studies and accident response programs, polluted water diving research, and hot water diving studies. A major innovation by NOAA was the 1977 introduction of nitrogen-oxygen (nitrox) breathing mixtures and decompression tables to the diving community. Nitrox maximizes bottom time for scuba diving investigators. The NDP also developed a system for preparing nitrox in the field. The NOAA Diving Program plays a critical role in the development and support of scientific diving for NOAA and the United States. NOAA has more than 300 divers at 40 locations and on 14 ships and has the largest complement of divers of any civilian government agency. Averaging 10,000 dives annually, its exemplary safety record is attributed to thorough training, adherence to established standards and procedures, and the use of quality, wellmaintained equipment.

History of Diving & NOAA Contributions


The creation of what is now known as the National Undersea Research Program (NURP) was initiated with the 1977 genesis of NOAA’s Undersea Laboratory System (NULS), under the Manned Undersea Science and Technology (MUS&T) Program, to provide staffed underwater facilities and other research support. Later that year, NULS deployed an undersea research habitat, Hydrolab, to allow science missions off St. Croix, Virgin Island. In 1980, the MUS&T office was reorganized under NOAA’s Office of Undersea Research and became the Office of Undersea Research (OUR) which evolved into NURP. At present, NURP supports extramural research programs through scientists from marine and academic institutes carried out primarily through six National Undersea Research Centers. NURP is a comprehensive underwater research program that places scientists under water directly, through the use of submersibles, underwater laboratories, and scuba diving, or indirectly by using remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and observatories. The in situ (in place) approach allows acquisition of otherwise unobtainable observations, samples, and experimentation related to NOAA priority research objectives such as building sustainable fisheries and sustaining healthy coasts. NURP also provides access for the United States research community to civilian, military, and international undersea technology. In the past decade, NURP has annually supported

nearly 8,000 air, nitrox, and mixed-gas scuba dives addressing issues relating to ecosystem health, coastal processes, and fisheries. NOAA has traditionally sponsored R&D programs to improve diver performance. Dive tables and training requirements developed by these programs are now worldwide standards. NOAA is the only federal program with statutory responsibility to improve the safety and performance of divers. Examples of NOAA’s diving research program include fundamental hyperbaric physiological research, operational procedures, safety, medical aspects, environmental impacts on divers, technology development, and data dissemination. Active international programs include the U.S.-Japan Cooperative Program on National Resources (UJNR) Panel on Diving Physiology and Technology and the U.S./France Cooperative Program of Oceanography.

Humans have explored the ocean depths at least since the fifth millennium B.C., and the development of the diving techniques and systems described in this section reflects a human drive for mastery over all aspects of the environment. The search for methods that will allow humans to live comfortably in the marine biosphere for long periods of time continues today, as engineers and scientists work together to make access to the sea safer, easier, and more economical.


NOAA Diving Manual

The NOAA Diving Manual was prepared jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce and Best Publishing Company. This CD-ROM product is produced and distributed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS), U.S. Department of Commerce. Visit our Web site at www.ntis.gov.

Physics of Diving
2. 0 GENERAL ........................................................................2- 1 2. 1 PRESSURE........................................................................2- 1 2. 1.1 Atmospheric Pressure..................................................2- 1 2. 1.2 Hydrostatic Pressure ...................................................2- 1 2. 1.3 Absolute Pressure.......................................................2- 1 2. 1.4 Gauge Pressure..........................................................2- 2 2. 1.5 Partial Pressure .........................................................2- 2 2. 2 DENSITY .........................................................................2- 3 2. 2.1 Specific Gravity.........................................................2- 3 2. 3 WATER ...........................................................................2- 3 2. 3.1 Freshwater ...............................................................2- 3 2. 3.2 Seawater..................................................................2- 3 2. 3.3 pH..........................................................................2- 4 2. 4 UNITS OF MEASUREMENT................................................2- 4 2. 4.1 Length ....................................................................2- 4 2. 4.2 Area .......................................................................2- 4 2. 4.3 Volume ...................................................................2- 4 2. 4.4 Weight ....................................................................2- 4 2. 5 TEMPERATURE................................................................2- 4 2. 5.1 Heat .......................................................................2- 6 2. 6 BUOYANCY (Archimedes’ Principle) ......................................2- 6 2. 7 GASES USED IN DIVING ...................................................2- 7 2. 7.1 Atmospheric Air ........................................................2- 7 2. 7.2 Oxygen (O2) ..............................................................2- 7 2. 7.3 Nitrogen (N2)............................................................2- 8 2. 7.4 Helium (He)..............................................................2- 8 2. 7.5 Carbon Dioxide (CO2).................................................2- 8 2. 7.6 Carbon Monoxide (CO) ...............................................2- 8 2. 7.7 Argon (Ar), Neon (Ne), Hydrogen (H2)............................2- 8 2. 8 GAS LAWS.......................................................................2- 9 2. 8.1 Boyle’s Law..............................................................2- 9 2. 8.2 Charles’/Gay-Lussac’s Law..........................................2-11 2. 8.3 Dalton’s Law............................................................2-11 2. 8.4 Henry’s Law .............................................................2-12 2. 8.5 General Gas Law.......................................................2-13 2. 9 MOISTURE IN BREATHING GAS........................................2-14 2. 9.1 Humidity..................................................................2-15 2. 9.2 Condensation in Breathing Hoses or Mask .......................2-15 2. 9.3 Fogging of the Mask...................................................2-15 2.10 LIGHT .............................................................................2-15 2.10.1 Colors .....................................................................2-15 2.11 SOUND ............................................................................2-16


Physics of Diving


In all diving operations, safety is the primary consideration. One key to safety is a clear understanding of the physics of diving. Physics is the field of science dealing with matter and energy and their interactions. This chapter explores physical laws and principles that pertain to the diving environment and its influence on the diver. Gravity is passive, vision and hearing may be misleading, color perception changes at varying depth, and breathing dynamics are ever changing. The principles of physics provide the keystone for understanding the reasons for employing various diving procedures and the operation of associated equipment. Many of these principles receive further elaboration in other sections of the NOAA Diving Manual.

level. At sea level, atmospheric pressure is equal to 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi) or one atmosphere (atm). The higher the altitude above sea level, the lower the atmospheric pressure. For example, at 18,000 ft. (5,486 m), atmospheric pressure is 7.35 psi, or half that at sea level (see Figure 2.1). At sea level, atmospheric pressure is considered constant and universal; that is, anywhere on the earth at sea level, the pressure is 14.7 psi. The pressure inside a person’s lungs is the same as the pressure outside. 2.1.2 Hydrostatic Pressure Pressure due to the weight of water is called “hydrostatic pressure.” The weight of water is cumulative; the deeper the dive, the more water there is above the diver and the greater the weight of that water. This weight affects a diver from all sides equally and increases at a rate of 0.445 psi per foot of seawater. Thus, at a depth of 33 ft. (10.1 m) of seawater (fsw), the hydrostatic pressure is 14.7 psi, or one atmosphere, the same pressure as atmospheric pressure at sea level. In freshwater, 34 ft. (10.4 m) equals 14.7 psi or 0.432 psi per foot of freshwater (ffw). Thereafter, for every 34 ft. of additional depth in freshwater, the hydrostatic pressure increases by one atmosphere (see Figure 2.1). 2.1.3 Absolute Pressure The sum of atmospheric pressure plus hydrostatic pressure is called the “absolute pressure.” Absolute pressure can be expressed in many ways, including "pounds per square inch absolute" (psia), "atmospheres absolute" (ata), feet of seawater absolute (fswa), feet of freshwater absolute (ffwa), or millimeters of mercury absolute (mmHga). To understand the effects of absolute pressure on a diver, consider this: the feet of a 6-foot tall man standing under water will be exposed to pressure that is almost three pounds per square inch greater than that exerted at his head.

Pressure is force acting on a unit area. Stated mathematically, Pressure = force/area P = F/A

In the United States, pressure is typically measured in pounds per square inch (psi). Under water, two kinds of pressure affect a person, the weight of the surrounding water and the weight of the atmosphere over that water. One concept that must be remembered at all times is: a diver, at any depth, must be in pressure balance with the forces at that depth. At all depths, the diver must compensate for the pressure exerted by the atmosphere, by the water, and by the gases being used for breathing under water. This compensation must always be thought of in terms of attaining and maintaining a balance between the pressure inside the body and the external pressure. 2.1.1 Atmospheric Pressure Atmospheric pressure is the pressure exerted by the earth's atmosphere; it decreases with altitude above sea


the sum of atmospheric and hydrostatic pressures equal 29. or one atmosphere absolute.486 m or 3 1/2 miles) of the column. A one-inch square column of seawater 33 ft. C.000 ft. we can approximate that atmospheric air is composed of 21% oxygen and 79% nitrogen.4 m) of freshwater. B. The zero reading on the gauge before it is attached actually represents the ambient atmospheric pressure. the proportion of the total pressure contributed by each gas in the mixture is called the “partial pressure. in. FIGURE 2. for a total of 100%.” Although traces of other gases are also present in atmospheric air. 29. 7.1 sq. (10. Weight 14.1 m) deep and a column of freshwater 34 ft.7 psia.1.” Consider the pressure gauge on a scuba tank. A one square inch column of air extending from sea level to the top of the atmosphere weighs 14. Weight 14.000 ft. add 14. 33 ft.7 lbs. B. The impact of partial pressures upon the diver is explained in detail later in this chapter under Dalton's Law. in. To convert gauge pressure to absolute pressure.4 lbs. Thus.35 lbs. for our discussion here. 1 sq. 2-2 NOAA Diving Manual FRESH SEA AIR C. at Sea Level Sea Level WATER 34 ft. (5. Sea Level WATER WATER 14.4 lbs.4 Gauge Pressure The difference between atmospheric pressure and the pressure being measured is “gauge pressure. FRESH 2. TOP OF ATMOSPHERE AIR ATMOSPHERE TOTAL AIR COLUMN A.1. at sea level. for instance. Total weight of air and water at 34 ft. 2. 1 sq. in.5 Partial Pressure In a mixture of gases.7 lbs.7 lbs. (10.1 Weight of Air and Water A.4 m) deep each weigh 14. the pressure in the tank is referred to in terms of "pounds per square inch gauge" (psig).7. . One half of the weight is contained in the first 18. To put it another way. At a depth of 34 ft.(10.7 lbs.7 lbs. at 18. the zero on the tank gauge actually represents 14.

2 Seawater and Freshwater Density TABLE 2.4 = 1. FIGURE 2. psia = pounds per square inch absolute ata = atmospheres absolute Physical laws that act upon a person above the surface of water also apply below the surface. As a result. 2. FRESHWATER 62. 3.e.1 Specific Gravity Specific gravity is the ratio of the weight of a given volume of a substance (density) to that of an equal volume of another substance (water [for liquids and solids] and air [for gases] are used as standards).3. Expressed mathematically. the specific gravity of seawater is 64... Density = Weight/Volume or D = W/V Density is expressed in pounds per cubic foot (lbs/ft3) or in grams per cubic centimeter (g/cm3).2 psia 147.1 psia 58.4 pounds per cubic foot. tasteless. Substances that are more dense than freshwater have a specific gravity greater than 1.3 WATER 1. especially during strenuous exercise and at deeper depths (see Table 2. etc.2°F (4C). Physics of Diving 2-3 .1 Pressure Chart Depth Sea Level Pressure 14. Water has a specific gravity of 1.7 psia 1 ata Gas Volume 1ft3 1/2 ft3 1/3 ft3 1/4 ft3 1/5 ft3 1/6 ft3 1/10 ft3 Gas Density 1x of seawater and a diver floats easier in seawater than in freshwater. very slightly compressible liquid oxide of hydrogen. In its purest form.0 at 39. As depth increases.e.2). Gas volume is inversely proportional to the depth in atmospheres absolute (ata). when a gas mixture at sea level is taken to two atmospheres absolute. High gas density increases the effort required to breathe and limits a diver’s ability to ventilate the lungs adequately. at three atmospheres of pressure it is approximately 45 psi. Gas density is related to absolute pressure. those forces increase. the density of the breathing gas increases and becomes heavier per unit volume.2 Seawater Seawater contains just about every substance known. per cu. Because of its components. freshwater floats on top 1 ft3 1 ft3 SEAWATER 64 lbs.0 pounds per cubic foot (see Figure 2. It is an odorless.0. H2O.1 Freshwater Water.5 psia 88.The body can function normally only when the pressure difference between the inside of the body and the outside is very small. any gas volume at four ata is one-fourth of the sea level volume. at six ata it is one-sixth. the diver should be aware of these effects. ft. ft.1).e. which freezes at 32°F (0C). Pressure of each atmosphere is equal to approximately 15 psi.2 DENSITY Density can be defined as weight per unit volume. Gas density is directly proportional to the pressure in atmospheres absolute (ata).3.026. etc. at three atmospheres absolute it is three times as dense. i.0/62. seawater is a good conductor of electricity. is a major constituent of all living matter.8 psia 73. etc. 2. 33 feet 66 feet 99 feet 132 feet 165 feet 297 feet 29. and boils at 212°F (100C). each gas in the mixture is twice as dense. i. 2.4 psia 44. per cu. 2. Freshwater has a density of 62.. Seawater has a density of 64. 2. As a diver descends into the water. i.0 psia 2 ata 3 ata 4 ata 5 ata 6 ata 10 ata 2 3 4 5 6 10 2. at six atmospheres it is approximately 90 psi. Sodium chloride (common table salt) is the most abundant chemical.2. Thus.4 lbs. water is a poor conductor of electricity.

in addition to using cubic feet.8 kg Example: Convert 82 kilograms to pounds. Solution: 82 kg × 2. and the second.37 inches).3). (C) scale. The English System is based on the pound.37 in  1 ft/12 in = 3. The pH balance in blood signals to the brain the need to breathe. A liter equals 1000 cubic centimeters (cm3) or 0.4. For example. One liter of water at 4C weighs one kilogram or almost 2. which reduces the CO2 level and thus reduces the acidity. which is one milliliter (ml). The more rapidly the molecules move. 2.28 ft/1 m = 32.2. 2. the meter. Solution: 180 lbs × 1 kg/2. and 2.4.2 lbs. 212¡F 100C 373K 672R 32¡F 0C 273K 492R (¡F) (C) (K) (R) FIGURE 2. and time: the English System and the International System of Units (SI). Heat is associated with the motion of molecules. and is widely used in the United States.2 lbs = 81.2 Area In both the English and International System of Units (SI).2 lbs/1 kg = 180.5 TEMPERATURE Body temperature is a measure of the heat retained in the human body.3 pH The pH of an aqueous solution expresses the level of acids or alkalis present.4.4 UNITS OF MEASUREMENT How much air do we have? How deep are we? How much longer can we stay on the bottom? Divers must have a common system of communicating the answers to these questions. Greater lengths are measured in kilometers (km). the foot. the higher the temperature.3. Using the room example from paragraph 2.2 lbs. Diving Physiology. Solution: 10 ft  1 m/3.28 ft = 1 m Example: Convert 10 feet to meters.3 Volume Volume is expressed in units of length cubed. 39. a room that is 12 feet by 10 feet would have an area that is 120 square feet (12 ft x 10 ft). 2.05 m Example: Convert 10 meters to feet. The pH of a liquid can range from 0 (strongly acidic) to 14 (strongly alkaline). 2. One of the ways the body can reduce the acidity of the blood is to increase ventilation. making it more acidic. area is expressed as a length squared. Temperatures must be converted to absolute when the gas laws are used.4 Weight The pound is the standard measure of weight in the English System. Temperature is usually measured either with the Fahrenheit (°F) scale or with the Celsius. Example: Convert 180 pounds to kilograms.2. Note that the degree symbol (°) is used only with Fahrenheit temperatures.3. and is based on the kilogram. are based upon the absolute zero (the lowest temperature that could possibly be reached) (see Figure 2. also known as the Metric System. which use Rankine (R) or Kelvin (K). The English System. uses other units of volume such as gallons. or Centigrade. 1 liter(l) = 1 kg = 2. The International System of Units is used virtually everywhere else.4). The importance of pH in diving is covered in Chapter 3.28 ft = 3.4.4 lbs 2. The International System of Units (SI) uses the liter ( l ). The absolute temperature scales.3 Freezing and Boiling Points of Water 2-4 NOAA Diving Manual . and the second.1 Length The principle SI unit of length is the meter (39. Too much carbon dioxide in the blood causes the pH level in the blood to change. Solution: 10 m  3. length.8 ft 2. There are two systems for specifying force.4. Every diver will eventually encounter the International System of Units and should be able to convert units of measurement from one system to the other (see Tables 2.2 but adding a third dimension—an eight-foot ceiling would result in a volume of 960 cubic feet (120 ft2 x 8 ft). The kilogram is the standard measure of weight in the International System of Units. Smaller lengths are measured in centimeters (cm) or millimeters (mm). with a value of seven representing neutrality.001 cubic meters (m3). 2.

033 1.7 ata Add 14.95 1.445 Add 33 Divide .22 32.432 Times 14.7 Minus 1 Times 14.432 Minus 14.01 kg/cm2 1.013X105 1 bars 1.81 1.7 Times .432 Add 34 Divide .31 61.7 atm Divide 14.02X10-5 gm/cm2 (cm H2O) 1033 .06804 105 1 1000 100 .394 0.7 Divide 14. Hg) pounds/square inch foot of freshwater (ffw) foot of seawater (fsw) inches of mercury inch of freshwater cubic inch (in3) cubic feet (ft3) cubic inches cubic foot fluid ounces (fl oz) quarts (qt) 0.013 10-5 mb 1013 .03 ffwa Divide .1 = = = .02953 28.92 .035 35.001333 . Divide 14.4 Barometric Pressure Conversions Units psig psia atm ata fsw fswa ffw ffwa Minus 14.057 To Convert From SI Units WEIGHT 1 gram 1 kg 1 kg LENGTH 1 cm 1 meter 1 meter 1 km AREA 1 cm2 1 m2 1 km2 square inch square feet square mile 0.02 .9807X10-3 .9807 980.445 Times .00136 .7 Times 14.27 2.432 Times 34 Add 34 Times 34 Times 1.53 70.4910 1 TABLE 2.97 Times .432 Add 14.03 Minus 33 Times 1.03937 1 2.7 Divide .9681 = 968.7.7 Times .4 51.7 Times 14.01422 .001 1 .96 0.0102 mm Hg 760 .445 Times .445 Add 14.70 29.3 750.7501 735 .621 ounce (oz) ounces pounds (lb) 0.53 .02 1000 1 1.432 Times 34 Times 34 Minus 34 Times 1.03386 .432 psig psia Add 14. Hg 1 lb/in2 (psi) = 1 N/m2 or Pa 1.3 Conversion Table for Barometric Pressure Units atm 1 atmosphere 1 Newton (N)/m2 or Pascal (Pa) 1 bar 1 millibar (mb) 1 kg/cm2 1 gm/cm2 (1 cm H2O) 1 mm Hg 1 in.76 0.07 .TABLE 2.7 Add 14. Metric to English Units To Convert From SI Units PRESSURE 1 gm/cm2 1kg/cm2 1kg/cm2 1kg/cm2 1 cm Hg 1 cm Hg 1 cm Hg 1 cm Hg 1 cm of freshwater inches of freshwater pounds/square inch (psi) feet of freshwater (ffw) inches of mercury (in.06895 1.01451 14.1451X10-3 = .035 14.432 Minus 34 Times .445 Minus 33 Times .7 Add 1 Minus 1 Divide 33 Minus 33 Divide 33 Divide 34 Minus 34 Divide 34 Add 33 Divide 33 Divide 33 Add 34 Divide 34 Divide 34 fsw Divide .3 3386 6895 .386 inch inches feet mile 0.03453 .001 .9869X10-3 = .03 Add 34 Minus 34 Physics of Diving 2-5 .7 98.7 Times .445 Times 33 Times 33 Minus 33 fswa Divide .02 0.205 To English Units Multiply By To English Units Multiply By VOLUME AND CAPACITY 1 cc or ml 1 m3 1 liter 1 liter 1 liter 1 liter TABLE 2.94 .36 34.9807 133.2953X10-3 Ib/in2 (psi) 14.445 Times 33 Add 33 Times 33 Add 33 Minus 33 Times .51 .0334 .7 Minus 14.97 Minus 34 Times .8 28.394 39.7 Times .7 Divide 14.97 ffw Divide .9869X10-5 = .28 0.394 0.9869 = .0703 1020 1.447 0.445 Minus 14.735 1 25.2 Conversion Factors.434 0.02894 .37 3.155 10.0075 in.1 .97 Add 34 Times .394 14.22 .01934 .333 33.03 Add 34 Times 1.035 33.00102 1 .001316 . Hg 29.70 .9807X105 .193 0.7 Divide .86 68.061 35.

Therefore. becoming chilled when the water temperature drops below 75°F (23. The greater the density. use the following equation: C= 5/9 × (°F .4). use the following equation: °F = (9/5 × C) + 32 or °F = (1.56 × (°F . He established that "Any object wholly or partly immersed in a fluid is buoyed up by a force equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by the object.9C) and overheated when body temperature rises above 98. As a consequence.5. the buoyancy is positive and the object floats. each cubic foot of seawater that is displaced by a volume of air in a container has a lifting force of 64 pounds. If the weight of the displaced water (total displacement) is greater than the weight of the submerged body.8 × C) + 32 2. use the following equation: C + 273 = K The Fahrenheit (°F) and Rankine (R) temperature scales are used in the English System. The Celsius and Fahrenheit scales are based on the temperature of melting ice as 0C (32°F) and the temperature of boiling water as 100C (212°F). to absolute temperature Kelvin. Thus. Below that temperature. The Celsius (C) and Kelvin (K) temperature scales are used in the International System of Units.6 BUOYANCY (Archimedes’ Principle) A Greek mathematician named Archimedes determined why things float 2000 years ago. Human beings function effectively within a narrow range of internal temperatures. the greater the buoyancy force. the greater the buoyancy (see Figure 2.32) 10C (50¡F) Dry suit or hot-water suit range 37C (98. Rankine or Kelvin. then buoyancy is neutral and the object is suspended.Either of the absolute temperature scales. A person who has become chilled cannot work efficiently or think clearly and may be more susceptible to decompression sickness.1 Heat Water temperature is an important consideration in all diving operations. 2-6 NOAA Diving Manual . If the weight of the object is equal to the weight of the displaced water. may be used in gas law calculations. a dry suit. Buoyancy is dependent upon the density of the surrounding liquid. compared to 62. or a hot water suit to compensate for extended exposures to cold water.6ºF (37C).6¡F) Body temperature 30C (86¡F) Some type of wet suit depending on time 24C (75ºF) Full wet suit range To convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit. it is often necessary to employ a thicker suit. Neutral buoyancy is the state frequently used when diving." This explains why a steel ship floats.0 pounds per cubic foot. To convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius.5). but its anchor does not. it is easier to float in seawater than in a freshwater lake. To convert from Fahrenheit to absolute temperature Rankine. 0C (32¡F) Freezing point of water FIGURE 2. Seawater has a density of 64. body heat loss occurs faster than it can be replaced. If the weight of the displaced water is less than the weight of the object. A cellular neoprene wet suit loses a portion of its insulating property as depth increases and the material is compressed (see Figure 2.4 Recommended Thermal Protection 2. or Centigrade.4 pounds per cubic foot for freshwater. The more water displaced. use the following equation: °F + 460 = R To convert from Celsius. then the buoyancy is negative and the object sinks.32) or C = .

. In some diving applications. . . . . . . . . . . .1 Atmospheric Air The components of dry atmospheric air are given in Table 2. . . . . The most common pollutant is carbon monoxide. . . . . . . . . must be taken into account to insure that no harm is done to body organs and functions. . . or by increasing the size of a variable-volume diving suit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . By using weights. . and temperature. . . . . . . . . attached has displaced 6. Buoyancy is also an invaluable aid to lifting heavy items in salvage operations. . nitrogen. . . a diver can manipulate his buoyancy to meet operational needs. . . . .18* Helium . Breathing a mixture with no oxygen will result in unconsciousness. . volume. . . . . . . . . Besides its essential metabolic role.2. . . . Seawater The partially immersed 84 lb. . .5 ft3  Nitrogen 78.2 Oxygen (O2) Oxygen is the most important of all gases and is one of the most abundant elements on earth.7 GASES USED IN DIVING Air breathed on the surface (atmospheric air) is also the most common gas breathed under water. . . . . . . . divers use various mixtures of oxygen. For storage in saturation and for deeper diving the percentage may be less. . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . The physiological effects of each gas alone. atmospheric air may also contain industrial pollutants. aircraft.946 Argon 0. . and helium. . . . Sometimes 100% oxygen is used in shallow diving and in certain phases of diving. . Still. brain damage. . . . .0.5 * Xenon . . . . . . .0. . . . oxygen is fundamental to decompression.5. . . . .0. Atmospheric air contains approximately 21% oxygen.033 Rare Gases 0. barrel with 332 lbs. . . Besides atmospheric air. . . . . . .2. . .08* *Approximate 64 lbs/ft3 = 416 lbs 416 lbs Ð 84 lbs = 332 lbs positive buoyancy FIGURE 2. . odorless. . . . . . often present around the exhaust outlets of internal-combustion engines. . . for example. .1. . . .24* Carbon Monoxide .5 * Nitrous Oxide . Breathing pure oxygen 2. . . . . . . . special mixtures of one or more of the gases may be blended with oxygen. . .5 Components of Dry Atmospheric Air 6.003 30. . . Pure 100% oxygen is often used for breathing in hospitals. . . . . . . . . . . only oxygen is actually used by the body. When working on the bottom. . . . . . Diving safety is jeopardized if pollutants are not filtered from compressed air prior to diving.7. . . . . . . . . .5 ft3 Concentration Component Percent by Volume Parts per Million (ppm) Weight of barrel 84 lbs 332 lbs. . . .TABLE 2. serve only to dilute and mix with oxygen. which exists freely in a diatomic state (two atoms paired off to make one molecule).084 Oxygen 20. the gas can also be toxic. . . . . and active gas readily combines with other elements. .5. From the air we breathe. tasteless. . . . . .5 ArchimedesÕ Principle An understanding of buoyancy serves the diver in a number of ways. This colorless. a slightly negative buoyancy provides better traction and more stability on the sea floor. . Fire cannot burn without oxygen and people cannot survive without oxygen. . . . . The other 79% of the air serves to dilute the oxygen. and death within a few minutes. by expanding the air in a buoyancy compensator. . .5 ft3 of seawater. .934 Carbon Dioxide 0. . . it may be too low to be safely breathed at sea level. .0 * Krypton . . . . . . . . . . . . and hyperbaric medical treatment facilities. . . Gases react in specific ways to the effects of pressure. . Depending upon the location and weather conditions. 6. in fact. . . . . . . . . . .7. . or in combination with other gases. Mixtures low in oxygen require special labeling and handling to ensure that they are not breathed unintentionally.36* Methane . . . . The so-called “inert” gases breathed from the atmosphere. or those in gas mixtures we breathe when diving. . Physics of Diving 2-7 . . . 2.18. . . . .00* Neon . . . .14* Hydrogen . . . . . .

Oxygen is the agent responsible for most oxidation that takes place on this planet. the label on the cylinder should clearly state this.6 Carbon Monoxide (CO) Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which interferes with the blood's ability to carry oxygen.7. helium does have several disadvantages. it is far better to use technical oxygen than not to breathe oxygen when it is needed.S. particularly the lungs. In order for combustion to take place there has to be oxygen. and technical oxygen (Grade C). Grade C may have no identification other than that it is oxygen. which can cause rapid heat loss from the body. Neon (Ne). Elevated carbon dioxide levels may further predispose a diver to nitrogen narcosis. is also taken through the lungs into the blood stream. it is absolutely essential to remove carbon dioxide from the breathing gas.4 Helium (He) Helium is used extensively in deep diving as a diluting agent for oxygen. and this green color applies only in the U. 2. recent advances in medicine indicate that carbon dioxide may be involved chemically in changes with dilation of blood vessels. excessive carbon dioxide can cause unconsciousness that can be fatal for divers. if this is the only oxygen available in a case where decompression sickness needs to be treated. However. For diving. and various other parts of the body and nervous system. Color-coding should never be relied upon to make positive identification of the gas in any cylinder. are sucked in with the air at the intake of the compressor. 2-8 NOAA Diving Manual .7. (31m) or deeper. Helium has a lower density than nitrogen and it does not cause the same problems associated with nitrogen narcosis. Material burns more vigorously in an oxygenenriched environment. and its removal after exhalation. oxygen toxicity.7. fuel. and a source of ignition. Carbon dioxide is considered biologically “active” since it directly influences the pH level of blood. neon. Because it is colorless. which forms the largest proportion of the air we breathe. nitrogen may be used to dilute oxygen. Aviator’s oxygen is ultra-dry in order to prevent freezing of regulators. With divers using closed or semi-closed breathing systems. but should be maintained with a minimum of 25 psi cylinder pressure to prevent contamination from entering the cylinder. from longer exposures. However. because its higher density reduces the conduction of heat. and tasteless. In addition. especially via the respiratory system. and a great deal faster and more intensely in pure oxygen. and decompression sickness. and by overheated oil-lubricated compressors. odorless. Oxygen comes in three basic grades: aviator’s oxygen (Grade A). Hydrogen (H2) Argon. accordingly.under pressure may affect the central nervous system in short exposures. 2. but normally these gases are not used in diving operations. In the United States. but the containers may not be evacuated prior to filling and may contain preexisting contaminants and objectionable odors. 2. Breathing helium-oxygen mixtures impairs voice communication when diving by creating the "Donald Duck" voice. it is necessary to handle pure oxygen appropriately. With several methods for mixing gases. If the oxygen is Grade A or B.2). but it plays no part in metabolism.7. typically at least 100 ft. Argon has narcotic properties and a density that make it inappropriate for use as a breathing gas. 2. but otherwise it is the same as medical oxygen. The effects can be lethal.3 Nitrogen (N2) Nitrogen gas. This is the only gas for which there is a uniform color-coding. When breathed at increased partial pressures. it is frequently used for inflation of variable-volume dry suits for warmth. Helium also has a high thermal conductivity. reduces breathing resistance (see Section 2. In breathing air under pressure it is the nitrogen portion that plays the major role in decompression. Oxygen cylinders should never be completely emptied.7 Argon (Ar). The exhaust gases. it is difficult to detect and it acts as a cellular poison. 2. The usual carbon monoxide problem for divers is contamination of the air supply because the compressor intake is too close to the compressor-motor exhaust. in deep diving. Technical (welding) oxygen comes from the same source as medical. but it has several disadvantages compared with other gases. nor does it explode. it is not recommended for diving. medical/industrial oxygen (Grade B or USP grade [Medical Grade]). A lower-density gas. oxygen is shipped in gas cylinders that are color-coded green.5 Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Carbon dioxide is a natural by-product of metabolism that is eliminated from the body by breathing. However. Although generally not considered poisonous. Significant contamination in oxygen is quite rare. It is produced by the incomplete combustion of fuels and is most commonly found in the exhaust of internal-combustion engines.7. and hydrogen have been used experimentally to dilute oxygen in breathing-gas mixtures. producing an intoxicated state characterized by a loss of judgment and disorientation called nitrogen narcosis. The gas itself does not bum. The two major concerns with carbon dioxide are control of the quantity in the breathing supply. including carbon monoxide. it has a distinct anesthetic effect.

units of measurement. A scuba diver at 99 ft.4 msw. During descent.7 psi). but a scuba diver at a very shallow depth who comes to the surface holding his breath may develop an air embolism and die? Assume that a breath-hold diver is going from the surface down to 99 ft. the air volume would be: V4 = P4 = 4 ata V4 = 1 ata × 24 ft3 4 ata P1 V1 P4 V4 = 6 ft3 How is it that a breath-hold diver can return to the surface from a depth of several hundred feet with no problem. the volume of the gas will vary inversely with the pressure. pressure changes affect the air in dive equipment and in the diver’s lungs. using the method illustrated previously. the gas in his lungs will be compressed. Example 1 . decompression—all are governed by Boyle's Law (see Figure 2. As a diver moves up and down the water column. functioning of a scuba regulator. changes in buoyancy. Any compressible air space. volume. is in a pressure/volume balance with his environment. descent or ascent.3.: P1 V1 V3 = P 3 P3 = 3 ata V3 = 1 ata × 24 ft3 3 ata V3 = 8 ft3 NOTE: The volume of air in the open bell has been compressed from 24 to 8 ft3 at 66 ft. depth.1 Boyle’s Law "For any gas at a constant temperature. however. This is true whether we are dealing with a pure gas or with a gas mixture. Ear and sinus clearing. and then taken under water to a depth of 33 fsw (10. What follows are various physical laws that directly and indirectly affect underwater activity.8 GAS LAWS Definitions have been provided of terms. Gases are subject to three interrelated factors: pressure. diving mask volume. and 99 fsw (10. neon is expensive and causes increased breathing resistance at moderate or heavy workloads. Calculate the volume of the air space in the bell at depths of 33. it will be only half full of air. and temperature. it will be reduced to onefourth the original volume.8. A diver needs a basic understanding of the gas laws.Neon causes less voice distortion than helium and has lower thermal conductivity.1.4 psi). air consumption." If an inverted bucket is filled with air at the surface where the pressure is one atmosphere (14. respectively). Hydrogen has two important advantages as a breathing gas: it is readily available and it produces less breathing resistance at depth than other gases. No air is supplied to or lost from the bell.Boyle’s Law For the 99 ft. However. As he ascends. Example 3 . and the properties of the gases divers use under water. Example 2 . until at 99 ft. whether it is in a diver’s body or in a flexible container. He takes a breath of air. will change its volume during descent and ascent. A change in one results in a measurable change in the others.Boyle’s Law Using the method illustrated above to determine the air volume at 66 ft. 66. and to be able to interpret the reading on the depth gauge of the pneumofathometer hose as conditions of temperature and depth vary. the explosive properties of hydrogen are a significant disadvantage. It is also essential to determine whether the air compressor on deck has the capacity to deliver an adequate supply of air to a proposed operating depth. 2. 20. The relationships among these three factors have been defined as the gas laws. thus there is no change in the original volume.Boyle’s Law Transposing to determine the volume (V2) at 33 ft. discards his Physics of Diving 2-9 .6). As a breathing gas. of water. and 30. or two atmospheres (29. Boyle’s Equation: P1 V1 = P2 V2 P1 = initial pressure surface absolute V1 = initial volume in cubic feet (ft3) P2 = final pressure absolute V2 = final volume in cubic feet (ft3) V2 = 12 ft3 NOTE: The volume of air in the open bell has been compressed from 24 to 12 ft3 in the first 33 ft. the volume of gas in his lungs expands back to the original amount.: V2 = P1 = 1 ata P2 = 2 ata V1 = 24 ft3 V2 = 1 ata × 24 ft3 2 ata P1 V1 P2 2. Examples of Boyle’s Law An open-bottom diving bell with a volume of 24 cubic feet is lowered into the water from a surface support ship.1 msw).

Lungs SEA LEVEL Vol = 1 or 100% 1 ata or 14. 30.2 m 4 ata or 58.6 BoyleÕs Law Applied to Depth Versus Volume and Pressure 2-10 NOAA Diving Manual .4 psia 1/2 50% 66 ft. 10.5 m 10 ata or 147 psia 1/10 10% ata = atmospheres absolute psia = pounds per square inch absolute FIGURE 2.1 m 3 ata or 44. 20.5 psia 1/5 20% 297 ft.7 psia 100% 33 ft.1 m 2 ata or 29.1 psia 1/3 331/3% 99 ft.2 m 5 ata or 73. 40. 90.8 psia 1/4 25% 132 ft.

What will the cylinder pressure be if the temperature of the air inside reaches 102ºF? Physics of Diving 2-11 . the whole is equal to the sum of the parts. etc.233. They hit the vessel walls harder and more often.8. etc Pt = Total Pressure PP1.14. What is the volume of the gas at 99 ft? From Example 3 in the illustration of Boyle’s Law above. To prevent this increase in pressure (and possible rupture of the scuba valve safety disc). constantvolume container.61 ft3 NOTE: The volume within the balloon at 99 ft. It is left on the boat deck on a hot summer day. with each gas acting as if it alone was present and occupied the total volume. it is especially important to store full scuba cylinders in a cool place. As kinetic energy increases with increased temperature. the air in his lungs will have increased in volume to match the decrease in water pressure.2 Charles’/Gay-Lussac’s Law Temperature has an effect on the pressure and volume of a gas.3 psia .000 psig (3. = 6 ft3 T1 = 80°F + 460 = 540 Rankine T2 = 45°F + 460 = 505 Rankine V2 = unknown Transposing: V2 = V1T2 T1 6 ft3 × 505 R 540 R (pressure remains constant) Stated mathematically: P1 P2 T1 T2 (volume constant) = P1 = 3. "For any gas at a constant pressure. 2. Example 2: Gay-Lussac’s Law – Pressure Change A scuba cylinder contains 3. the molecules travel faster.014. Charles’ Equation: V1 T1 = V2 T2 where V1 = volume at 99 ft.014.8.233. At the surface the temperature is 80°F. Stated mathematically: Pt = PP1 + PP2 + PP3. the pressure of the gas will vary directly with the absolute temperature.6 psig Note that a scuba cylinder is a non-flexible.3 Dalton’s Law The human body has a wide range of reactions to various gases or mixtures under different conditions of pressures. "The total pressure exerted by a mixture of gases is equal to the sum of the pressures of each of the different gases making up the mixture." Example 1: Charles’ Law – Volume Change To illustrate Charles’ Law. This means pressure within the cylinder increases as the temperature is raised. The application of Charles’ equation illustrates the further reduction of volume due to temperature effects.7 psia T1 = 64°F + 460 = 524 Rankine T2 = 102°F + 460 = 562 Rankine P2 = Unknown Transposing: P2 = P1T2 T1 P2 = 3. If he continues to ascend without releasing air from his lungs. According to Dalton’s Law. the total pressure of a mixture of gases is the sum of the partial pressures of the components of the mixture.scuba gear and ascends holding his breath. Dalton’s Law is used to compute the partial pressure differences between breathing at the surface and breathing at various depths in the water. level.. the volume of the gas will vary directly with the absolute temperature or for any gas at a constant volume.7 psi = 3. 2. the effect of increasing volume in his lungs may actually rupture the lungs with fatal consequences. It is essential to know the effect of temperature since temperature at depth is often different from that at the surface. and there is an increase in pressure associated with heating a scuba cylinder. and each part is not affected by any of the other parts. As he ascends.014. V2 = V2 = 5. By the time he reaches 33 ft. = Partial Pressure of the first gas. at depth the temperature is 45°F.218. etc.7 psia × 562 R 524 R P2 = 3." In other words. we know that the volume of the gas (24 ft3) was compressed to six cubic feet when lowered to the 99 ft.3 psia Converting to gauge pressure yields: 3. his body is affected by Boyle's Law. consider a balloon with the capacity of 24 ft3 of air which is lowered into the water to a depth of 99 ft. was reduced further due to the drop in temperature.7 psia) at 64ºF.

6 and 2. which gives an indication of the net rate at which the gas tends to enter or leave the solution. gas molecules will diffuse into the solution.) Gas % = Percent of Component (decimal) Pt = Total Pressure Px = Partial Pressure of Gas Imagine a container at atmospheric pressure (1 atm or 14. 2.000 psi? Px = Gas % (decimal) × Pt PN2 = .7808 × 136.02 ata) of carbon dioxide. To determine the partial pressure of a gas in a mixture. these partial pressures have increased to significant levels at 2.478 psi or in atmospheres: PN2 = . As the gas molecules enter the liquid. The subscript x represents the specific gas (i. atm.7 psi = 11. as the partial pressures of all the constituent gases contribute to the total pressure (see Table 2. If the container is filled with dry atmospheric air.7808 × 14. etc.23 atm Observe in Tables 2." If one unit of gas is dissolved at one atm. Whenever a gas is in contact with a liquid. the partial pressure of the oxygen will be 14. If the container is filled with oxygen alone. etc.000 psi × 1 atm/14. use the following equation: Partial Pressure = (Percent of Component) × (Total Pressure [absolute]) Stated mathematically: Px = Gas % × Pt (The pressure can be stated in psi. At that point.7808 × 2.000 psi with atmospheric air.” a way of identifying the partial pressure of the gas in the liquid. As the number of gas molecules in the liquid increases. How does this phenomenon apply to divers? To begin with.000 psi = 1. then two units will be dissolved at two atm.7 psi = 136. the gas tension increases until it reaches an equilibrium value equal to the outside partial pressure. the liquid is “saturated” with the gas molecules. and the pressure gradient is zero. The implications for divers are important. Example 2: Dalton’s Law What is the partial pressure of nitrogen within the scuba cylinder filled to 2. The figure Px is used to indicate partial pressure.7 psi. 2-12 NOAA Diving Manual . When the gradient for diffusion into tissue is high. PO2 for the partial pressure of oxygen).0 atm = . the net rate at which gas molecules enter or leave the liquid will be zero.7 psi).05 atm = 106. they add to a state of “gas tension.7808 × 1. the partial pressure of the various components will reflect the increased pressure in the same proportion as their percentage of the gas (see Table 2.6). and the two states will remain in balance.561. the partial pressure at depth will be dangerously high. a level a person can easily accommodate at one atm. The Dalton’s Law correlation in gas density with oxygen and nitrogen richness is illustrated in Figure 2.7 psi (1 atm). while the partial pressures of some constituents of the air (particularly CO2) were negligible at 14.7 that. with low tension and high partial pressure. a large percentage of the human body is water.7.7 psi (1 atm). Example 1: Dalton’s Law Calculate the partial pressure of nitrogen in a total mixture as follows: Px = Gas % (decimal) × Pt PN2 = . three units at three atm. Unless there is some change in temperature or pressure.7).8. the rate of absorption into the liquid is high.e. pushed by the partial pressure of each individual gas. The difference between the gas tension and the partial pressure of the gas outside the liquid is called the pressure gradient.7808 atm If a scuba cylinder is filled to 2. the total pressure will also be 14.Partial pressure of a given quantity of a particular gas is the pressure it would exert if it alone occupied the total volume. Henry’s Law stated mathematically: VG = o P c 1 VL where VG = Volume of gas dissolved at STPD (standard temperature pressure dry) VL = Volume of the liquid o = Solubility coefficient at specified c temperatures P1 = Partial pressure of that gas above the liquid When a gas-free liquid is first exposed to a gas mixture.000 psi. a portion of the gas will dissolve in the liquid until equilibrium is reached.6 psi or in atmospheres: PN2 = 2.05 atm PN2 = . If surface air is contaminated with 2% (PCO2 .4 Henry’s Law "The amount of any given gas that will dissolve in a liquid at a given temperature is proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in equilibrium with the liquid and the solubility coefficient of the gas in the particular liquid.

3 ata (66 feet).000 psi (136. but this occurs slowly.7 Air at 2.6 ata PPN2 = 2.23 atm 28. If a diver breathes a gas long enough. the exact amount dissolved depends on the specific gas in question. etc. These facts and the differences in blood supply have led to the postulate of tissues with different saturation halftimes (5-minute tissues. and producing a condition known as decompression sickness (the bends).00% Partial Pressure Partial Pressure atm psi .28 atm 136. 40-.50 atm . his body will become saturated.6 ata Pt = 2.004 psi .03% . During ascent.4 ata PPN2 = 1.5 General Gas Law Pressure. 20-. the dissolved gases will begin to be released. The various gases are dissolved in the body in proportion to the partial pressure of each gas in the breathing medium.0 ata . If a diver’s rate of ascent (including decompression stops) is controlled properly.). nitrogen is five times more soluble (on a weight-for-weight basis) in fat than in water.6 psi 419.66 fsw Four times as dense as the surface at 4. For example.0 psi Air N2 O2 CO2 Other Total Air N2 O2 CO2 Other Total Air Composition 1 ata Absolute Pressure in Atmospheres sea level Partial Pressure PPO2 = 0. If. and temperature are interrelated.05 atm 1561.0 ata .95% . as gases vary in their solubility.7808 atm .2 ata PPN2 = 0. ascent is too rapid and/or decompression stops are missed or reduced so that the pressure is reduced at a rate higher than the body can accommodate.000 atm 11. The deeper one dives.0094 atm 1.TABLE 2.95% .2095 atm . 2. The amount of gas dissolved is also governed by the length of time and the pressure at which you breathe it.7 psi (1 atm) Percent of component 78. Some gases are more soluble than others and some liquids are better solvents than other liquids.0 psi .08% 20.8.478 psi 3. and the higher the total pressure of the breathing gas.94% 100.0 ata PPO2 = 0.04 atm 1.4 ata Pt = 3. disrupting body tissues and systems.00% Partial Pressure Partial Pressure atm psi 106.0 ata PPO2 = 0.138 psi 14.08% 20. the greater the pressure exerted upon the body. on the other hand. 75-. gas bubbles may form.8 ata PPN2 = 3. the dissolved gas will be carried to the lungs by the tissue’s blood supply and will be exhaled before it accumulates and forms bubbles in the tissues.2 ata Pt = 4. and 4 ata (99 feet) FIGURE 2.0003 atm .33 fsw Three times as dense as the surface at 3. This serves as the basis for calculating decompression tables. it will take anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. Depending on the gas.6 psi 18.700 psi TABLE 2.7 Partial Pressure = O2 = N2 PP = Partial Pressure Pt = Total Pressure Gas can dissolve in water and fat in the human body as they make up a large percentage of the body’s total mass.0 ata . 2 ata (33 feet). volume.8 ata Pt = 1.6 Air at 14.03% . However. It follows that more gas will dissolve in the body tissues.0 ata % O2 = 20% N2 = 80% Total = 100% O2 = 20% N2 = 80% Total = 100% O2 = 20% N2 = 80% Total = 100% O2 = 20% N2 = 80% Total = 100% Density 2 ata 33 ft Twice as dense as the surface at 2. A change in one factor must be balanced by a change in one Physics of Diving 2-13 .99 fsw 3 ata 66 ft 4 ata 99 ft Partial pressure of a 20/80 mixture of oxygen/nitrogen at 1 ata (sea level).94% 100.0 ata PPO2 = 0.05 atm) Percent of component 78. 10-minute tissues.080 psi .8 psi 2000.

Transposing: V2 = V2 = (14. It is used to predict the behavior of a given quantity of gas when changes may be expected in any or all of the variables (see Figure 2. G) (B.8 Gas Laws or both of the remaining factors. temperature. The General Gas Law (also known as the Ideal Gas Law) is a convenient combination of Charles’ and Boyle’s laws.6 60¡F H 9. The General Gas Law states: 10.8). FIGURE 2.0 3 atm 80¡F G 9. in seawater.2 Imagine a uniform-bore tube.61 ft3 NOTE: The volume was reduced. D.1 atm 80¡F A 60¡F B 40¡F C The general gas law is stated mathematically as follows: P1 V1 P2 V2 = T1 T2 where P1 = initial pressure (absolute) V1 = initial volume T1 = initial temperature (absolute) and 20. I) (C.3 18. E. Too much moisture in a system can increase breathing resistance and produce lung congestion. due to the drop in temperature and the increase in outside pressure.8 psia T2 = 45°F + 460 = 505 Rankine V2 = Unknown P1 V1 T2 T1 P2 6. B.9 MOISTURE IN BREATHING GAS Breathing gas should have sufficient moisture for comfort. E.7 psia) (24 ft3) (505 R) (540 R) (58. too little can cause an uncomfortable sensation of dryness in the mouth. nasal passages.7 psia V1 = 24 ft3 T1 = 80°F + 460 = 540 Rankine P2 = 58. Surface temperature is 80°F and depth temperature is 45°F.0 2 atm 80¡F D 19. F. The volume of air in the tube will be affected by changes in temperature and pressure in accordance to the following gas laws: CharlesÕ Law: (A.3 40¡F I P1 V1 P2 V2 = T1 T2 P1 = 14. Determine the volume of the gas in the bell at depth. C) (D. sealed on one end. G) illustrate that a change in either volume. H) (C.5 60¡F E 40¡F F P2 = final pressure (absolute) V2 = final volume T2 = final temperature (absolute) Example of General Gas Law: Consider the open diving bell of 24 ft3 capacity lowered to 99 ft. Air or other breathing gases supplied from surface compressors or tanks can be assumed to be dry.6 6. F) (G.4 6. I) illustrate the reduction in volume caused by an increased pressure at a constant temperature. 2. I) illustrate the reduction in volume caused by a reduction temperature at a constant pressure. E. is inverted in a container of water at 80¡F and one atmosphere. or pressure causes changes to the others.8 psia) V2 = 5. The General Gas Law (CharlesÕ and BoyleÕs Laws Combined): (A. H. and sinus cavities. BoyleÕs Law: (A. throat. This dryness can be reduced by removing the mouthpiece and rinsing the mouth with 2-14 NOAA Diving Manual . E.

That is why a pencil in a glass of water looks bent. refraction affects close vision. presents no problem. a clearer image is now focused on the retina. The dive should be aborted if such a condition occurs. Turbidity refers to the clarity of the water. Water slows the speed at which light travels. Eyes function by collecting light that is emitted or reflected by an object.9. and this degree of error increases in turbid or muddy water. the retinal image is larger. Turbidity affects the ability to see colors because the suspended particles diffuse and scatter light.2 Condensation in Breathing Hoses or Mask Exhaled gas contains moisture that may condense in breathing hoses of a rebreather or in your mask. As a rule of thumb. 2.” Under water. FIGURE 2.8 m). or because of evaporation through facial skin. Seen through a diving mask. The visual distortions caused by the mask vary considerably with the viewing distance.3 Fogging of the Mask Masks become fogged because of the moisture in exhaled breath. Human beings can perceive only the very narrow range of wave lengths from 380 to 800 nanometers (see Chapter 3).9. Turbidity is another factor affecting underwater visibility. It can be dangerous to use gum or candy to reduce dryness while diving. Do not remove your mouthpiece in seawater or freshwater that may be polluted. Therefore at 65 ft. objects appear closer than they actually are. Turbid water gives greatest transparency to wavelengths in the green range. however. of less than four feet (1. Orange is the next color to be lost. Due to imperfect correction. red is not visible. By placing a pocket of air (i. Some light is absorbed by the object. the more likely it will appear to be closer than it really is.10. However. at distances WATER LINE COIN APPEARS TO BE HERE Light rays are refracted as they enter the water. and the intensity of yellow has decreased by about 95 percent. but only one percent of the blue rays. this change in speed causes light rays to bend. The coin is actually closer than it appears. this condensation may freeze. will reduce face mask fogging. the more likely it will appear farther than it really is.10 LIGHT The sense of sight allows perception of electromagnetic energy (light). and depends on the quantity of particulates in suspension. Thus. or commercial anti-fogging products. Muddy water is more turbid than clear water. the effects of humidity are important considerations. Turbidity can cause overestimation of the distance of an underwater object. but the light itself changes.1 Colors Water absorbs light according to its wavelength. For example. the only colors visible are blue and violet.2 m). Objects may now appear approximately 25% larger because of the larger-than-normal retinal image. Exhalation through the mouth. while turbid water is usually green. followed by yellow. It is important to remember that underwater distance perception is very likely to be inaccurate and that errors of both underestimation and overestimation may occur. creating distortions that affect eye-hand coordination and the ability to grasp objects under water. instead of the nose. The deeper the light penetrates the water. in general. Stationary objects appear to move when the head is turned from side to side. 2. even in very clear water. because water vapor condenses at temperatures we are likely to encounter while diving. making the object appear colored. disrupting normal functioning of a scuba regulator. in very cold water. As light enters or leaves water. This fogging can be prevented by moistening the face plate with saliva. the light rays are refracted twice _ once when they enter the air from the water and again as they enter the eyes. or refract (see Figure 2. the eyes continue to function by collecting light reflected off objects. Absorption begins at the red end of the spectrum. At the 2.e. 2. Additionally the more turbid the water. (19.9 Refraction Physics of Diving LIG HT BE AM COIN ACTUALLY IS HERE 2-15 .1 Humidity Water vapor (a gas) behaves in accordance with the gas laws. In very deep water. and then green. Three feet of distilled water absorbs twelve percent of the red. liquid soap. This water is easily blown out through the exhaust valve and. the closer the object. very clear water is blue. 2.. Other perceptual distortions are also apparent.9 and 2.10). However. the more light wavelengths are absorbed. overestimation occurs at distances greater than four feet. However. The energy waves that are received by the eye are turned to electrical impulses in nerves and sent to the brain via the optic nerve.water or by introducing a small amount of water inside a full-face mask. a facemask) between the water and the eyes. The brain interprets the signals and we “see.9.

(610 m) (Kinney 1985). The inner ear turns this mechanical vibration of the eardrum into a nerve impulse. as when they 2-16 NOAA Diving Manual . At deeper depths.060 m) per second. contrast becomes the most important factor in visibility.SUN Light Rays Reflected Water Line Diffused Diffused Refracted Absorbed FIGURE 2. until visible objects are distinguishable only by differences in brightness. the nature of these two waves is different. This transfers the wave pattern to the second medium.023 ft.000 ft. again because it is more dense). as depth increases. a sympathetic vibration occurs. As the medium containing the pressure wave comes into contact with another medium. The speed of sound through air is 1. As an example.8). a sound is produced and the disturbance travels through the air as a pressure wave striking our eardrums. Fluorescent paint does aid visibility (see Table 2. the speed of sound through seawater is 5. The impulses are sent to our brain for interpretation. Sound is produced by pressure waves triggered by vibration. In dense media. (5. Light waves are electromagnetic. however. the ability to discern colors decreases. thereby allowing it to transmit sound faster) and salinity (seawater allows sound to travel faster than freshwater. The density of water varies according to its temperature. This sets off a sympathetic vibration in the eardrums. Because the speed of sound depends on the density of the medium it travels through. molecules are packed close together. (343 m) per second. The more dense the medium through which sound travels.600 ft.531 m) per second. interesting acoustical effects occur in water that has several temperature layers (known as thermoclines). (1. The speed of transmission of sound in water depends on the temperature of the water (colder water is denser. the faster the speed of sound.10 Sunlight In Air And Water Absorbed Refracted same depth. allowing easier transmission of the wave motion. Turbidity also affects the ability to see colors because the suspended particles diffuse and scatter light. and the speed of sound through steel is 16. Some sunlight may penetrate to as deep as 2.125 ft. When sound waves transfer from water of one temperature/density to another.11 SOUND Although light and sound both travel in waves. In general. blue appears with 40 to 50 percent of its initial surface intensity. 2.

the direction of the source can be determined. bays. and white Clear water (southern water.) Fluorescent paint Any fluorescence in the yellows. seems non-directional.8 Colors That Give Best Visibility Against a Water Background Water Condition Murky. Sound travels faster. sound travels so quickly it reaches both ears without an appreciable interval. substantial energy is lost.) Natural Illumination Fluorescent yellow. It is almost impossible to determine from which direction a sound originates. red. encounter a thermocline. white Fluorescent yellow-green or yellow-orange Regular yellow. or reds Regular paint of yellow. a. oranges. thus. harbors. and white (no advantage in fluorescent paint) Mercury Light Fluorescent yellow-green and yellow-orange Regular yellow. and white Moderately turbid water (sounds. The sound seems to originate from all directions. Under water. and white Fluorescent paint Incandescent Illumination Yellow. fluorescent paints are superior. and red Regular yellow. This tends to isolate sound within water of a consistent temperature. sound reaches one ear before the other. turbid water of low visibility (rivers. orange. and is more easily heard under water. With short viewing distances. white Fluorescent paint NOTE: With any type of illumination. On land. fluorescent green and yellow-green are excellent. fluorescent orange is excellent. With long viewing distances. b. orange. or reds Regular paint of yellow. orange. even though it is coming from only a few feet away. orange. orange. See note. Hearing under water is affected in important ways.TABLE 2. etc. a diver who is not in the same thermocline range as the source of a sound often cannot hear that sound. Physics of Diving 2-17 . etc. coastal water) Any fluorescence in the yellows. oranges. Interestingly. deep water offshore.

NOTES 2-18 NOAA Diving Manual .

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....3........3-12 3.......8 3.......3-29 3.3-22 3..3......3 Indirect Effects of Pressure During Descent ....3..........4.....7 Types of Heat Stress ....3............9 3.............2 3.....................1 Prescription Drugs ........2 Tissue Gas Exchange..........3-10 3.3......1..........3......3..3-19 3...3-28 3.......5 Counterdiffusion.......4...........3 Digestive System...3-30 3....3-18 3..........3........3......3 Variations In Tolerance .3-16 3........3-18 3...........2.....3-21 3.............3..3.........3...4..2 Direct Effects of Pressure During Ascent.............3.3..3......3-15 3...............3....6 Prevention of CNS Poisoning ..3 Treatment Tables .......6.3.........3-12 EFFECTS OF PRESSURE ............4.4 Eyes .Diving Physiology SECTION 3...........3.......5.....5 Summary of Respiration and Circulation Processes ........3..............3-34 3..2 First Aid for Hypothermia........6..........3 Lungs ......................................................4 3..............3........4..........4 Circulation ........3....3..................8 3.......3................4 3................2...3-26 3.....6 Excessive Resistance to Breathing .......3...............6.......................3...1 Ears .......................................8 Prevention of Lung or Whole-Body Toxicity .4............3......3-12 3.......3..2 Lung and “Whole Body” .............3-21 3.........3-30 3...........3-20 3.4.........3-32 3..2..1 Effects of Cold ...4 Arterial Gas Embolism .3-35 ........3....3............3-29 3...........3..2..........8 Pregnancy and Diving ...........................6 3............1 CNS: Central Nervous System ....3-21 3.6..3...2..4..............2...........6 Teeth ...3-31 3.........6 Aseptic Bone Necrosis (Dysbaric Osteonecrosis) ......3-33 DRUGS AND DIVING .......7 Patent Foramen Ovale ..1...5 3...1....3...2.........3-22 3..1 3 PAGE PAGE SECTION 3.............3....1 Musculoskeletal System .............4.....3......1 Process of Respiration .....3........5....2 Smoking ..3...7 The “Oxygen Clock” or “O2 Limit Fraction”..........1.....3..3........4.....3-29 3.......3......................3..3-34 3....................4 3...3 Hyperventilation ......8 3.......3.....4 Benefits of Intermittent Exposure...3-30 HYPOTHERMIA/HYPERTHERMIA .1 Direct Effects of Pressure During Descent ......5 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning .........................3...1 3....6..2........5 Concepts of Oxygen Exposure Management .2....6 3........2 High Pressure Nervous Syndrome (HPNS) ..5 3....2...........3 Illicit Drugs and Alcohol ......6.2 Lungs—Mediastinal Emphysema ...3.............3 Tissue Use of Oxygen ...3-28 3.....................................3...1 3.......2............................3-24 3.7 Contact Lenses ..3-16 3....4............3-16 3......2 Decompression Sickness .....4................4...........1.......4 Thermal Stress Irrespective of Ambient Temperature........1.....2...3.4....3.....3-30 3.....3-32 3......1 Hypoxia ..............1 3...3.3..6 Overheating and Hyperthermia ..................1 Inert Gas Narcosis ...0 3......4 Shallow Water Blackout...............4 Failures of Treatment ..3..............3-19 3.........3.........................3.3...................2................................1 Inert Gas Elimination ..3 Lungs—Subcutaneous Emphysema .................2......3..............3-17 3.2 3.3-22 3......2.3..........2 Nervous System .............3 Thermal Protection ...3.3.......4............3.3-11 3.......3..2 Carbon Dioxide Toxicity ..................................................................3.....................3 3......3........3.............3-13 3.....................6......2 Mechanics of Respiration ..........2........4.......1 Blood Transport of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide .2...3 Oxygen Toxicity .3...3.5 Stomach and Intestine .1...3......................3.3....................2.2..1 SYSTEMS OF THE BODY ........3-24 3......3-11 3..5......3-34 3.....................2 Sinuses .............5 Survival in Cold Water .................2 RESPIRATION AND CIRCULATION ....3-24 3....3.............3.7 Lipoid Pneumonia ........3-22 3...........................................3-33 3.................3-19 3...3-22 3.....3.2.........2......2......1 Lungs—Pneumothorax .....2 3.3..............3 GENERAL ....3-13 3.4...............4 Indirect Effects of Pressure During Ascent .3-21 3..........4.....6 Respiratory Problems .2.3-15 3..............3-20 3..3 Control of Respiration..

2 Nervous System The nervous system includes the brain.1 Skeletal System 3-1 . however. Some muscles are controlled consciously. Past a point. and a complex network of nerves. Pectoral Lowers the arm Intercostals Between ribs Help you catch your breath and turn the upper half of your body Quadriceps Help straighten your knees useful in climbing stairs Sartorius Longest muscle 3. the body cannot maintain healthy physiology. the body normally maintains internal functions within healthy ranges.1 Musculoskeletal System Bones provide the basic structure around which the body is formed (see Figure 3. at a rate ten times faster than other tissues. does not directly determine how the body reacts to forces on it. the brain and spinal cord are called the central nervous system (CNS).0 GENERAL This section provides an overview of how the human body responds to the varied conditions of diving.3). which may result in medical problems. Despite many external physical forces. Collectively. the largest of which has fibers that reach all the way from the spinal cord to the big toe (three feet or more). Bones are the last tissues to become saturated with inert gases. like the heart. Additionally.2). and its cells will begin to die within four to six minutes if deprived of that oxygen supply. which has the ability to transmit electrochemical signals as quickly as 350 feet per second. function automatically. The muscles make the body move — every movement from the blinking of an eyelid to breathing (see Figure 3. muscles offer protection to the vital organs. A knowledge of diving physiology contributes to diving safety and enables a diver to describe diving-related medical symptoms when problems occur. The brain uses approximately 20% of the available oxygen supply in the blood. each with a specific job. The basic unit of the nervous system is the neuron (see Figure 3. Femur Tibia Fibula Carpal Bones Patella Tarsal Bones FIGURE 3. They give strength to the Skull Mandible Scapula Humerus Clavicle Sternum Thorax Radius Ulna Pelvis Vertebral Column Vertebrae FIGURE 3. spinal cord.1.2 Muscular System body and protection to the organs. explained in the previous chapter.1 SYSTEMS OF THE BODY The body tissues and organs are organized into various systems.Diving Physiology 3 Sternocleidomastoid Rotates the heavy head Deltoid Shoulder muscles Raise the upper arm Triceps Biceps Help raise and lower arms Gluteus Maximus Strong muscles Straighten the hip joint and hold you upright Gastrocnemius Help you stand on your toes Tendons Connective tissue 3. All nerves originate in the brain or spinal cord.1). These systems are as follows: 3. Diving physics. while others. There are over ten billion nerve cells in the body.1. 3.

Body Capillaries FIGURE 3. Tricuspid Valve Rectum Lowest part of large intestine Ñ solid waste held until released from the body.4). Stomach Stores food while enxymes break down food for further digestion. This warm air continues down the trachea. Secretes juices into the mouth. this congests air passages. Axon (Relays) Synapse Nucleus Axon (Relays) Dendrite (Receives) Dendrite (Receives) Impulse FIGURE 3.2. The digestive system converts food to a form that can be transported to and utilized by the cells. Anus Skin opening that expels waste from body. sugars. mouth. leaving more solid material which body cannot use. These materials diffuse into the blood and are carried by the circulatory system to all of the cells in the body. Duodenum First 10 Ñ 12 inc hes of the small intestine. small and large intestine. pancreas. Small Intestine Nutrients for the body are absorbed and moved into blood stream. Lung Pulmonary Pulmonary Arteries Veins Esophagus Passageway for food between mouth and stomach.3 Digestive System The digestive system consists of the stomach. the salivary glands. In each lobe. the branches divide into even smaller tubes called bronchioles. Other stimuli can trigger bronchiole-muscle spasms. When spasms occur frequently. Salivary Glands Tongue Moves food around. and gall bladder (see Figure 3. chemical. Pancreas Gall Bladder Stores bile until needed for digestion. Here the process of digestion is completed. Aorta Lung Liver Produces digestive juice called bile. and to trap dust and other particles. These bronchi divide and re-divide into ten bronchopulmonary branches which make up the five lobes of the lungs: three for the right lung.1 Process of Respiration Respiration is the process of getting oxygen (O2) into the body. the digestive system reduces food into soluble basic materials such as amino acids. Irritating stimuli trigger the secretion of too much mucus into the bronchioles. reducing the amount of air breathed in a given time. asthma is suspected.5).5 Respiratory and Circulatory System 3-2 NOAA Diving Manual . Through a combination of mechanical. The purpose of all these branches is to provide a large amount of gas-transfer tissue in a small area. Inspired air is warmed as it passes through the nose. into two bronchi at the top of each lung. Large Intestine Absorbs water.4 Digestive System FIGURE 3. Non-digested material passes out of the body as feces. creating respiratory conditions that cause problems when diving. and carbon dioxide (CO2) out. Trapped particles are then removed by coughing or swallowing. fatty acids. Unfolded. liver. the bronchio-pulmonary branches would be enormous—between 750 and 860 square feet each (70 and 80 square meters). Produces pancreatic juices to further break down food in digestion. Special cells lining the bronchioles secrete mucus to lubricate and moisten the lungs so that breathing doesn’t dry them. the left lung has only two lobes to allow room for the heart. and throat. 3. Indigestible material is stored for approximately 24 to 30 hours before leaving body. and bacteriological actions. Right Atrium Lung Capillaries Left Atrium Bicuspid Valve Veins Arteries Right Ventricle Left Ventricle Appendix An organ that no longer has a function in your body.1.2 RESPIRATION AND CIRCULATION Two body processes most noticeably affected during diving are respiration and circulation (see Figure 3. and water. The larger bronchioles have a muscular lining that can squeeze or relax to regulate how much air can pass.Neuron (A Nerve Cell) 3.3 A Nerve Cell 3.

the pleura pulls on the lungs. Inspiratory reserve averages three liters.The bronchioles are honeycombed with pouches.5 liter. Normal inhalation requires the contraction of the inspiratory rib muscles (external intercostals) and the diaphragm muscle below the lungs. This volume is usually determined by size and age. and viruses in the air. like the tide. there is still just over a liter in the lungs. It is in the capillaries that dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged between the lungs and the bloodstream. special cells called alveolar macrophages engulf or destroy them. There are about 300 million alveoli in each lung. Additional air that can be inhaled after a normal inspiration is the inspiratory reserve. preventing bubbles. Tidal volume at rest averages about 0. Normal inspiration can be increased by adding contraction of some of the neck muscles (accessory muscles). This residual volume keeps the lungs from collapsing. pushing on the lungs by elastic recoil and pushing air out. including filtering. or the ability to deliver oxygen to the blood. called the expiratory reserve. As lung volume increases. it comes in and goes out.2. removing harmful particles. 3. Vital capacity refers to the largest volume exhaled after maximum inhalation. Lungs are directly exposed to all the pollutants. However. so gas transfers quickly. and close together so gas transfers easily. Even after forcefully expelling all the air possible.6 Process of Respiration Capillaries O2 CO2 CO2 Bronchio Terminal Alveoli Arteriole Artery O2 Venule Vein FIGURE 3. To exhale.2 Mechanics of Respiration The volume of air breathed in and out is called tidal volume. such as fat globules and small blood clots. too many bubbles will overwhelm this pulmonary filter. Each alveolus is less than .7. larger individuals usually have higher vital capacity. Special cells and enzymes break down and remove the trapped particles. There. Concha Sphenoid Sinus Adenoid (Naso-Pharyngeal Tonsil) Septum Soft Palate Hard Palate Tongue Epiglottis (Cover of Windpipe) Larynx (Voice Box) Trachea Alveoli Bronchial Artery Right Lung Bronchus Pulmonary Vein Pulmonary Artery Esophagus Tonsil Pharynx Bronchiole Pulmonary Venule Pulmonary Arteriole Stomach FIGURE 3.04 inch (1mm) wide. smoke. and more rib muscles. Exhalation can be increased by contracting the abdominal wall and the expiratory muscles of the chest (internal intercostals). pressure within decreases allowing air to flow into the lungs to equalize pressure. In turn. Particles not trapped by bronchiole mucus enter the alveoli. in most cases. enlarging them. bacteria. the ability to breathe adequately during exertion.7 Lung Air Sacs (Aveoli) Diving Physiology 3-3 . Surrounding each alveolus is a network of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Besides exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. the diaphragm and inspiratory muscles relax. from going back to the heart and being pumped from there to the rest of the body. semi-permeable. it pulls on the double membrane around the lungs called the pleura. After exhaling normally. The lungs even filter gas bubbles generated during diving ascents. The walls of alveoli and their capillaries are only one cell thick. each containing a cluster of tiny air sacs called alveoli. lungs have several other interesting functions. Vital capacity alone does not determine capacity for exercise. Lungs also filter the blood supply. dust. one can forceably exhale another liter or so of air. As the chest cavity enlarges.6 and 3. This process is shown in Figures 3.

2). does not directly affect the respiratory center to any great degree. An insufficient ventilatory rate may occur when breathing resistance is high or there is a high partial pressure of oxygen. The body makes the necessary adjustments by changing breathing patterns. or even unconscious (see Section 3. the venules join.2. as the secondary stimulus.000 miles (100. flows into the right atrium. The left side of the heart pumps blood into the aorta. 3. Although the body produces carbon dioxide during exercise. can lower CO2 too far. O2/CO2 exchange in the pulmonary capillary bed.3). away from others. These can contribute to carbon dioxide toxicity (hypercapnia) (see Section 3. For example. The lens of the eye has none. An excessive ventilatory rate during emotional stress such as fear. 3-4 NOAA Diving Manual . to the lungs via the pulmonary artery. this immediately restores the blood CO2 level to normal and keeps it there throughout exercise. Oxygen. even during heavy exercise. which is a factor in controlling blood pressure. These capillaries join. It is interesting to note that this circulatory loop takes only 90 seconds. left ventricle.3. Muscles may have approximately 240.6. Arterial constriction and dilation is useful to direct blood Deoxygenated blood coming from body to lungs Oxygen-rich blood returning from lungs to body Superior Vena Cava Head and Arms Aorta To all parts of the body Pulmonary Artery Right Lung Left Lung Pulmonary Vein Left Atrium Right Atrium Left Ventricle Right Ventricle Septum Inferior Vena Cava Lower Part of Body De-oxygenated blood entering the inferior and superior vena cava. sometimes so low that one can become oxygen deficient (hypoxia).2.5 liter of air. each regulating different respiratory events. Ventilation increases to remove (“blow off”) CO2. both found in certain diving situations. net blood levels do not fall.000 km) of them. back to the left atrium through the pulmonary vein. The body has many self-regulatory mechanisms to keep internal levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide the same.3 Control of Respiration At rest.6.2. Arterial pressure also contributes to the force that distributes blood through the body. and separately determine rate. rate and volume increase many times.2. and through a series of large muscular blood vessels called arteries (see Figure 3. Oxygen in the alveoli dissolves and transfers into the blood through the millions of alveolar capillaries. 12 to 20 times a minute.8). Oxygen acts on cells called chemoreceptors in two places in the heart.000 capillaries per square centimeter. bursts of impulses from these main nerve centers signal the respiratory muscles. problems arise. The body contains a finite amount of blood. The muscular arteriole walls squeeze or relax to regulate how much blood can pass. pattern. and to increase and decrease resistance to blood flow. right ventricle. Only about five to ten percent of capillaries flow with blood at any given time. resulting in greatly increased inspiratory and expiratory signals to the respiratory muscles. and back into the systemic circulation through the ascending and descending aorta. As the primary stimulus during exercise. the body is adversely affected. The rate slows during rest and deep relaxation. a person normally breathes about a 0. and carbon dioxide from the tissue needs to get back to the lungs. Low CO2 reduces the drive to breathe. During exertion or emotional stress. The number of capillaries in any particular part of the body depends on how metabolically active that part is. therefore it must be regulated to meet the body’s varying needs. rising production of CO2 stimulates receptors in the respiratory center. FIGURE 3. which explains why a bubble which is introduced into the arterial circulation due to a lung overpressure accident can quickly cause an arterial gas embolism. and depth of inspiration and expiration. if blood fluid volume depletes from dehydration or can’t keep up with the competing demands of exercise and cooling in the heat. and the pulmonary vein carries the oxygenated blood to the left side of the heart. Capillaries are so narrow that blood cells can only go through them single file. What is called “the respiratory center” is several separate groups of nerve cells in the brain stem. Every few seconds.8 Flow of Blood Through the Heart into needed areas. These chemoreceptors transmit signals to the brain’s respiratory controls. forming the large pulmonary vein. forming fewer but larger venules. or during deliberate hyperventilation. levels do not ordinarily rise. Although tissues use oxygen during exertion. Arteries branch into many progressively smaller arterioles.4 Circulation Oxygen from air in the lungs needs to get to the tissue. When there is insufficient blood to meet the body’s needs. Arterioles increase in number and decrease in size until they become capillaries—the human body has nearly 60.

the swollen piles of them can be felt in the lymph nodes. slowing CO2 transport so that tissue levels rise. even before blood leaves the capillaries on the way back to the lung. Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are used to combat glaucoma. it can be transported in higher quantity. At sea level. the lungs.2. This is why oxygenated (arterial) blood looks red. while hemoglobin without bound oxygen is so dark-red that it looks blue. Whenever lymphocytes collect to fight invaders. waste. Another part of the circulatory system is the lymph system. and when combined. Bicarbonate is alkaline. messages. About one percent of the liquid is not resorbed and remains in the spaces between capillaries and cells. fluid retention. so an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase inside red blood cells decreases the reaction time by a factor of 5. 3. and back to the heart. Carbonic acid is used to carbonate soft drinks. unstable FIGURE 3. releasing carbon dioxide into the alveoli so that CO2 can be exhaled. and altitude sickness. Just as bicarbonate in soda releases carbon dioxide gas when a pop can is opened. meaning blue. These are useful reactions in the body. Hemoglobin can loosely bond a small amount. and repair kits throughout the body. so it releases it. just as quickly (another small fraction of a second) loses hydrogens to become bicarbonate ions (HCO3–). this is called cyanosis. Ordinarily. The heart pumps the blood to the lungs where CO2 is removed and more oxygen is received. Having just become more acidic.Dissolved oxygen transfers easily through the capillary walls to the cells. A hemoglobin molecule with four oxygen molecules bound to it looks red. The lungs have enzymes to speed the reaction. Up to four oxygen molecules loosely attach to each hemoglobin molecule to form oxyhemoglobin. as in the body. This effect. the victim can look blue. called the Haldane Effect. As blood passes through capillary networks. Drugs called carbonic anhydrase inhibitors block the reaction of carbonic anhydrase.1 Blood Transport of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide Blood transports food. These three ways are minor and slow. such as carbonic acid. Red blood cells carry far more oxygen with hemoglobin than they could without it.000 times so that great amounts of CO2 can react with water. only a small amount of oxygen dissolves in blood plasma (the part of blood without cells). Oxygen and carbon dioxide don’t dissolve well in water. The difference between the soft drink and the body is that the reaction to release carbon dioxide in soda has no catalyst to speed it up. The CO2-loaded blood continues through all the capillaries. and carbon dioxide transfers from cells to capillaries. about 98 percent of the oxygen in blood is carried by hemoglobin. An even smaller amount of CO2 can bond with plasma proteins. disease-fighting cells. hemoglobin does not want the existing acid from the acidic carbon dioxide any more. it first wants to pick up new oxygen. It is also why. at sea level pressure.9 Carbon Dioxide Exchange carbonic acid (H2CO3).9). Carbon dioxide is also released in the lung by hemoglobin. then veins. water. Though seemingly fast. Dissolved CO2 diffuses out of cells into capillary blood. The oxygen-carrying problem is solved with a red protein molecule called hemoglobin found inside red blood cells. means that picking up oxygen in the lung Diving Physiology 3-5 . Carbon dioxide is easier to transport in the blood than oxygen. and deoxygenated (venous) blood looks blue. and makes and stores infection-fighting white cells (lymphocytes) in bean-shaped storage bodies called lymph nodes. from the word root cyan. The lymph system drains this extra fluid so it can return to the blood vessels to maintain proper blood volume. When hemoglobin arrives in the alveolar capillaries with excess carbon dioxide. and then. the reaction of changing carbonic acid to bicarbonate ions would take seconds to minutes—too slow to be useful. Hemoglobin also functions as a powerful acid-base buffer and scavenges the acidic hydrogen ions. like all other tissues. chemicals. A small amount stays in the dissolved state in blood plasma all the way to the lung. This section focuses on the blood’s role in bringing oxygen to the body and carbon dioxide back to the lungs. bicarbonate in blood becomes carbonic acid again. A small amount of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood reaches the lungs directly from the left side of the heart. and so it is a buffering agent in the blood against acids. it is called carbaminohemoglobin. The bulk of CO2 (about 70%) reacts quickly with water inside red blood cells to form first the weak. The lymph system also filters cell debris and foreign substances in the blood. many of which diffuse into the plasma where it is transported to the lungs. As a result. if all of the blood is deoxygenating from a serious injury or disease process. yet still not build to unhealthy levels. The oxygen makes the hemoglobin a stronger acid. pressure inside capillaries pushes fluid out of the capillaries. particularly in warm water. Acid from carbon dioxide and its reactions may form in great quantities. onward to venules. need oxygen to function.4. Blood is mostly water. and in more ways (see Figure 3. it is far too slow to keep one alive if it occurred at the same rate in the body.

liver. With increased oxygen pressure. The body also controls oxygen delivery. cells have been producing carbon dioxide. the blood vessels redistribute blood flow.3. down its own gradient. the brain always needs a steady supply of oxygen. consciousness may be lost in seconds. With low surrounding oxygen partial pressure. even though blood rushes through the body. If circulation slows or stops.3 Tissue Use of Oxygen The body uses some of the oxygen supplied to it. called precapillary sphincters. which is an important factor in oxygen delivery to the cells. Blood vessels constrict in areas of the body not using as much. and non-working muscles. who also co-developed the first algorithm to estimate amounts of inert gas absorbed and released by the body. Gas transfers via that pressure gradient to the lower pressure areas of the body. Hemoglobin does not just carry oxygen and blindly deliver it to the cells. By the time blood returns to the lungs. Gas exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen occurs quickly and easily. for example. is a means of measuring the body’s metabolism and energy production.promotes releasing carbon dioxide. Exhaled air has sufficient O2 to benefit the hypoxic victim. Heavy exercise can increase it to around twenty times. so it wants to release its stores of oxygen right then. and use oxygen. called the thoroughfare channel. above and below a range of about half normal pressure at moderate altitude to many times normal at depth. which controls the width of the blood vessels. the blood releases more oxygen. Another control mechanism is the hemoglobin-oxygen buffer system. and irreparable brain damage may occur within four to six minutes (see Section 3.2. the body can’t compensate. then blood to lungs. the oxygen consumption. and blood vessels to deliver oxygen. Aerobically fit people can deliver.2. thus reducing the oxygen delivered through vascular beds. heart rate and the force of the heart beat increase. CO2 travels from tissue to blood. Supplying more oxygen does not improve one’s fitness. allowing some blood passage to maintain normal functioning. Hemoglobin distributes nitric oxide. Contraction of arteriolar muscles constricts the arteriole. Arteriolar smooth muscle cells form sphincters. At rest. working muscles need more oxygen. oxygen pressure is low. at selected places in the capillary bed to shut off blood flow. hemoglobin releases less. depending on the aerobic fitness. yet tightly regulated processes. and the ability of the muscles and other cells to extract and use it. at altitude or other low oxygen states. and how much carbon dioxide it removes. During exercise. Unlike other areas of the body with varying blood supply.2. extract. and use more oxygen when exercising and are able to do more aerobic exercise. and exhales about 16 percent. Merely breathing in more oxygen does not affect how much one can use for exercise. small blood vessels constrict. The better shape one is in. Only regular aerobic exercise will make the necessary changes in the body. such as the digestive tract. With high oxygen pressures during diving. Oxygen is a vasoconstrictor. but not all. as during diving. However. In these areas. the body inhales approximately 21 percent oxygen. extract. Hemoglobin regulates how much oxygen it releases.2 Tissue Gas Exchange Blood flow is not the only determinant of how much oxygen reaches the body. it does not simply accept all the oxygen provided by the gradient. Body CO2 concentration is higher than blood concentration. hemoglobin still delivers oxygen to the body tissues at almost normal pressure. Average exercise increases the amount of oxygen needed by the active tissues by about ten times. it makes the hemoglobin more acid. Usually about 25% of the oxygen used by the body is available for muscular activity.3 on Oxygen Toxicity for effects of excess oxygen. See Section 3. Every capillary bed has one capillary with no sphincter. the more oxygen the body can deliver and extract. Oxygen in the air in the lungs travels toward the blood through a simple gradient of higher to lower pressure. the more work the body can do without reaching its own maximum oxygen-processing ability.4. the arteriolar muscular lining relaxes to allow more blood to enter. One regulation mechanism involves the small blood vessels. Within limits (though one breathes higher or lower than normal pressure oxygen). 3. Meanwhile. The amount of oxygen taken up by the body. the balance produces heat and supports other metabolic functions. is determined by variable. and the working cells extract more of the oxygen from the blood supply (see Figure 3. Many modern decompression tables are based on his work.4. 3. reducing the amount of blood entering the capillary bed. and even with the high demands of exercise.6. The reverse is also true—as hemoglobin picks up carbon dioxide in the body. The lungs get exposed to too much or too little oxygen. This is why mouth-to-mouth resuscitation can work.3. World-class athletes have reached over 30 times their resting rate.10). Blood expelled from low-demand areas increases blood flow to areas with high demand for oxygen supply and for carbon dioxide and waste removal. It stays open all the time. so.1). The better aerobic shape one is in. heart. spleen. even during heavy exercise. Aerobic fitness is the ability of lungs. How much oxygen the blood releases to cells. The Haldane Effect is named for Scottish-born British physiologist John Scott Haldane. During exercise. hemoglobin releases more than usual. Blood pressure rises. Now it is blood with higher oxygen pressure. 3-6 NOAA Diving Manual . so that tissue levels remain in set ranges. Oxygenated blood travels back to oxygen-depleted tissues. Cells withdraw oxygen from the blood. but the rest of the body does not. One has to increase their ability to deliver.

1. but this is very small at most diving depths. speed) Walking.5 knot (slow) Walking. 16) Slow Walking on Hard Bottom Light Work (0. dry gas.Ó As given here. 3 .8. 50) Heavy Work ¥ Max Walking Speed. 18) (1.95 factor ignores difference in the water vapor content between dry and saturated gas.2 knots (2.. 9) Sitting Quietly (0.All figures are average values.25. Severe Work barometric pressure.5. ¥ Swimming. 30) (1.10 Oxygen Consumption and RMV at Different Work Rates Diving Physiology 3-7 . 1 ata. 27) Slow Walking on Mud Bottom (0.5.85 knot (avg. Hard Bottom Swimming. 2 mph (0. dry gas. 8 mph (2.0.STPD means Òstandard temperature and pressure. 1. 7) Bed Rest (Basal) (0.7.8. The 0. 1.e. this value should be multiplied by 0.BTPS means Òbody temperature (98.30. 0. 13) Standing Still (0. STPD) (Note 2) FIGURE 3. Mud Bottom Swimming.95 to give corresponding values for dry gas at 70ºF.08 to yield engineering STPD. 4 mph (1. 34) (1. There is considerable ¥ Uphill (4. 40) ¥ ¥ ¥ Max Walking Speed. saturated with water vapor at body temperature. the numbers should be multiplied by 1.0 knot (1. it is medical STPD (i.2. 95) variation between individuals. BTPS) (Note 3) ¥ Running.6.4.100 95 90 85 80 75 70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 Notes: 1 . 60) (Note 2) RMV (liters/min. For oxygen cylinder endurance or helmet ventilation calculations. Running 2 . 0.Ó For open-circuit scuba endurance calculations. 32ºF. 6) 1 2 3 Rest 4 Oxygen Consumption (liters/min.6 ambient ºF). 23) 25 Moderate Work ¥ 20 15 10 5 0 ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ ¥ Swimming.0.40.

and tunnel vision.50 Threshold for whole-body effects.14-0. which shows both the range of hypoxic effects and higher ranges of oxygen uses.80 100% O2 recompression treatment gas at 2. in drowning. they are called anaerobic.2.1 Hypoxia The brain requires constant oxygen to maintain consciousness.6 Respiratory Problems 3. Of all the cells in the body. Oxygen transport by blood to the body tissue 4.20 Commercial/military “Sur-D” chamber surface decompression.2.35-0.08-0. over time. but individual physiology is a more prominent factor. At 12-14%. Fitness helps.1.1 Effects of Different Levels of Oxygen Partial Pressure PO2 (atm) Application and Effect <0.09-0. continuous phases: 1. Carbon dioxide transport by blood back to the heart. Releasing oxygen by blood to cells. Hypoxia may result from several situations: • Breathing mixtures that may be low in oxygen such as in seafloor or surface-based saturation systems or rebreathers • Ascending to high elevation • Convulsing under water from an oxygen-toxicity event • Breathing the wrong gas.Aerobic fitness is not the only fitness needed for life activities. there are usually no perceptible effects down to about 16% oxygen (PO 2 of 0. and ultimately. then lungs.40 60% N2/40% O2 nitrox recompression treatment gas at six ata (165 fsw) 2. hauling out of the water in full gear.40 Normal saturation dive PO2 level 0.08 Coma to ultimate death <0. sprints. 100% O2 at 40 fsw pressure 2. In rapid-onset. an adaptation to altitude can greatly increase one’s tolerance to hypoxia. where it diffuses into the lungs and is breathed out of the body 3. collapse is imminent for some. life.5 Summary of Respiration and Circulation Processes The processes of respiration and circulation include six important. if breathing stops and the lungs receive no oxygen. or perform tasks. with the onset of dizziness. These two anaerobic systems are utilized for breath-hold diving.00 50/50 nitrox recompression treatment gas for use in the chamber at six ata 3-8 NOAA Diving Manual . An inadequate supply of oxygen is known as hypoxia. asphyxia. The brain is subject to damage when it is deprived of oxygen for more than four to six minutes. At levels much below this. 3. Unconsciousness and death can occur in brain cells before the TABLE 3. brain cells are the most vulnerable to hypoxia. short duration. numb lips. maximum saturation dive exposure 1. orient.16 Initial signs/symptoms of hypoxia 0.16 ata). These symptoms become more prominent at 9-10%. mistaking the argon supply for dry suits for a breathing gas supply • Breathing gas from a scuba cylinder that has been stored with a little water in it for long periods — the oxidation reaction (misting) can.60 NOAA limit for maximum exposure for a working diver 2. or rescuing a heavy buddy. as can happen in heart failure when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. and intense activity.2. and extraction by body cells 5.10 Unconsciousness in most people 0.21 Normal environment oxygen (sea level air) 0. or if the oxygen partial pressure in the lungs is insufficient. not oxygen. consume nearly all of the oxygen in the cylinder • Inadequate purging of breathing bags in closed or semiclosed breathing apparatus In terms of inspired oxygen percentage at one atmosphere or at equivalent oxygen partial pressures. the body uses special stored fuel and glucose.8 ata (60 fsw) 3. most people will not notice the first symptoms of tingling. Regularly exercising at high speed and intensity for short bouts improves one’s anaerobic capacity.10 Serious signs/symptoms of hypoxia 0. Typical responses are included in Table 3. see properly. swimming against strong currents. some people can stay conscious with great effort but most will become unconscious. Because these two fuels are not oxygen-using (aerobic) systems. for example. Breathing air into the lungs (ventilation) 2. which means low oxygen and can mean any situation where cells have insufficient oxygen. Oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange between air in the lung alveoli and blood 3. Hypoxia decreases the ability to think. Use of oxygen in the cells by combining oxygen with fat and carbohydrates to generate energy and produce waste products including carbon dioxide 6.6. There is a significant variation between individuals in susceptibility and symptoms.

Failure of the carbon dioxide absorption system of closed or semi-closed circuit breathing systems allows the build up of high CO2 levels in any space where exhaled air accumulates and can be re-inhaled. flush the breathing circuit with fresh gas mixture before ascending. slowing of response • Foolish behavior • Cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the lips. In these cases. Normally. • An unconscious victim should be treated as if he is suffering from gas embolism. Signs and Symptoms: • Frequently none (the diver may simply lapse into sudden unconsciousness) • Mental changes similar to those of alcohol intoxication • Confusion. In extreme cases. Free-flow helmets generally do not have dead space problems unless the flow rate is maintained at a low volume for an extended period. It is unknown why some divers do not increase ventilation sufficiently. WARNING SKIP-BREATHING IS NOT A SAFE PROCEDURE. clumsiness. • When diving with a rebreather. perspiration. oxygen toxicity may result. flushed skin. • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation should be administered if necessary and should be continued after the victim is in the recompression chamber. although it is usually accompanied by an overwhelming urge to breathe and noticeable air starvation. CARBON DIOXIDE TOXICITY OCCURS WITH LITTLE OR NO WARNING. muscle twitching and convulsions may occur. Zone III: Discomfort. and skin) • In severe cases. or they skip breathe—pausing after each breath to conserve cylinder air. supplying a breathing gas with sufficient oxygen usually causes a rapid reversal of symptoms. if manual adjustments are made incorrectly. it is also true that large differences exist in individual responses to increases in carbon dioxide. and unconsciousness. cessation of breathing Prevention: • Avoid excessive hyperventilation before a breathhold dive. and carbon dioxide levels may rise (hypercapnia). the greater the sensation of shortness of breath occurs. Treatment: • Get the victim to the surface and into fresh air. or the equipment may allow exhaled CO2 to be rebreathed. Diving Physiology 3-9 . the body keeps arterial CO2 levels the same (within 3 mmHg). Some full-face masks have as much as 0.5 liter of dead space. and the greater the ventilatory effort.” and decrease in visual discrimination. high oxygen partial pressure decreases ventilation in some situations.11. the body has enough oxygen and does not need to breathe as much. confusion. Oral-nasal masks inside full-face masks/helmets are also effective in reducing the amount of dead space. To a smaller extent. Too much of this “dead space” in diving helmets or masks and in overly-large snorkels allows exhaled CO2 to collect and be rebreathed. no perceptible physiological effects are observed. The more production. A well-designed system has little dead space. the body produces more CO2. The breathing mixture itself may contain a higher than normal level of CO2.effects of hypoxia are apparent in other cells. “air hunger. dizziness. nausea. carbon dioxide excess (hypercapnia) occurs either from too much carbon dioxide in the breathing medium or because carbon dioxide produced by the body is not eliminated properly by the equipment or by the diver. • If the victim is still breathing.2. Another factor elevating CO2 is the increased effort of breathing at depth. Signs and Symptoms: Occasionally. The progressive nature of CO2 poisoning is shown in Figure 3. special equipment is needed to determine how much exhaled gas is rebreathed.6. Zone I: At these concentrations and durations. clumsiness. nausea. However. nailbeds. CO2 may not be removed in a normal fashion. mental depression. headache. a slowing of responses. • Always know the amount of oxygen in gas mixtures being breathed. The victims of hypoxia do not usually understand what is occurring. manually add oxygen to the breathing circuit and begin ascent immediately. weakness. • If under water and using a rebreather. even with heavy exercise. With exercise. There may be headache. Dead space volume cannot be determined by visual examination. CO2 poisoning produces no symptoms. and they may even experience a feeling of well-being. 3. Other divers deliberately breathe slowly. dizziness.2 Carbon Dioxide Toxicity In diving. but the breathing rate automatically increases to eliminate the excess. so it does not get rid of CO2 as fast. Zone II: Small threshold hearing losses have been found and there is a perceptible doubling in the depth of respiration.

needed carbonic acid levels are not achieved. If a diver becomes unconscious. normal.11 extends the period of exposure to 40 days. and blurred vision. ventilation rates should be maintained so that carbon dioxide partial pressures are maintained in Zones I and II for short-term exposures and in Zones A and B for long-term exposures.00 PCO2 ATA 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 40 Days 0 Exposure Time.02 Zone II Minor perceptible changes Zone I No effect Zone B 2 0.5 and 3. headache. dizziness.03 ata partial pressure). rapid. or intentionally to extend breath-holding time. inability to take steps for self-preservation.005-0.08 Zone C 8 0. hyperventilation means short-term.11 The Relationship of Physiological Effects in Carbon Dioxide Concentration and Exposure Periods Zone IV: Marked physical distress. Divers who notice that they are excessively hyperventilating should take immediate steps to slow their breathing 3-10 NOAA Diving Manual % CO2 Concentration in Air at 1 ATA .5 Zone A 0.CO2 Partial Pressure (PCO2). although any headache caused by the buildup may persist even after surfacing. Without enough CO2. a condition known alternately as hypocapnia or hypocarbia. stupor. no biochemical or other effects. Above a CO2 partial pressure (PCO2) of 0. Slowing breathing will correct this. deep breathing beyond the amount needed for the activity. stupor unconsciousness 0. Zone C: Pathological changes in basic physiological functions. from various health problems. and ventilate themselves and their apparatus. Over a longer period. In diving. For normal diving operations.3 Hyperventilation Hyperventilation includes several conditions that have the end result of lowering the blood carbon dioxide levels through overbreathing. rigidity. Zone A: Concentrations between 0. minutes FIGURE 3.03 ata partial pressure).15 ata. The bar graph at the right of Figure 3. Fresh breathing gas usually relieves all symptoms quickly. Adaptive biochemical changes.0 % (0. rest. it may produce weakness. The resulting alkalosis initially produces tingling fingers and limbs and lightheadedness.04 4 3 0. Zone B: Above 3% (0.2. breathe deeply. Zone V: Unconsciousness.6. faintness.06 6 Zone III Distracting discomfort 0. and death can occur. which may be considered a mild physiological strain. Hyperventilation lowers CO2 levels below normal. atmospheres absolute (ATA) Zone V UNCONSCIOUSNESS 0. muscle spasms. pushing body chemistry to the alkaline.10 10 Zone IV Dizziness. Treatment: Divers who are aware that they are experiencing carbon dioxide buildup should stop. he should be treated in accordance with the procedure described in Chapter 21. Divers may hyperventilate unintentionally during high-stress situations. but divers may not be aware of why symptoms are occurring and not take corrective measures. 3.

Eventually. CO exposure can result in pounding headache. Divers starting to hyperventilate should be instructed to stop work. Figure 3. Because of cellular toxicity. "Diving Medicine . November 1990. it is below a level of approximately 40 –50 mmHg that an individual is exposed to the risk of sudden loss of consciousness (syncope). the tender should continuously monitor the sound of diver’s breathing for signs of hyperventilation. or below the level necessary to remain conscious and the diver “blacks out. Unfortunately. the partial pressures of the gases are cut in half by the reduction in ambient pressure to 1 ata. Hyperventilating divers should not attempt to swim to a boat or the shore unaided because they may lose consciousness in the attempt. Diving Physiology 3-11 . Expressed as partial pressure of oxygen in the arterial blood. However. The net effect is that O2 partial pressure falls to 40 mmHg. After reaching the surface. The entire oxygen process of transport. try to control their breathing rate. While at depth (2 ata) the partial pressure of the oxygen (80 mmHg) is sufficient to maintain consciousness. the process may also lead to unconsciousness on or before returning to the surface. due to the increase in ambient pressure to 2 ata. hypoxia occurs even if the air being breathed has sufficient oxygen. upon ascending.4 Shallow Water Blackout Hyperventilation prior to a surface dive used to be popular with free divers to extend their breath-hold time. directly stopping vital cellular functions. It is still used today by some who have the distorted view that it will improve their diving capabilities.Shallow Water Blackout. the actual partial pressure of the carbon dioxide has doubled to 40 mmHg.6. the oxygen-transporting and storage protein of muscle. However. Although that is one of the effects. 3.” 3. which blocked hemoglobin from carrying oxygen and produced hypoxia (oxygen deficiency). When the diver returns to the surface (RS). Carbon monoxide also blocks hemoglobin from removing carbon dioxide. and utilization is disrupted. It is important to understand that for a human being to remain conscious there has to be a certain concentration of oxygen in the blood. MD.180 160 140 120 100 mmHg 80 60 40 20 0 S OXYGEN CARBON DIOXIDE S = Amount at surface S + HV = Amount after hyperventilation at surface RB = Amount upon reaching 33 fsw LB = Amount leaving 33 fsw RS = Amount upon reaching surface Adapted from Robert Bumgarner. and. uptake. After hyperventilation (S + HV) the carbon dioxide is decreased to 1/2 its normal value (20 mmHg) and partial pressure of oxygen (120 mmHg) increases slightly. and with the respiratory enzymes necessary for oxygen use in cells. Carbon monoxide combines strongly with myoglobin. breathing into a paper bag to rebreathe air with a higher level of carbon dioxide.2. directly toxic to the body. notify their buddies. During surface-supplied diving. ascend promptly. The increased pressure of oxygen at depth does not offset carbon monoxide toxicity. These are normal values for a healthy human at sea level. High concentrations may cause sudden loss of consciousness. and ventilate their mask/helmet. and vomiting. Oxygen.2. nausea. S + HV RB LB RS FIGURE 3. In the healthy individual." Skin Diver. Effects of CO increase with depth. a level sufficient to stimulate the diver to want to breathe or in this case return to the surface. It used to be popular to describe carbonmonoxide toxicity as simply a matter of carbon monoxide combining with hemoglobin to make carboxyhemoglobin. they should establish positive buoyancy inflating their buoyancy compensators or variable-volume dry suits. if feasible. slowing breathing. the situation is far more serious. Once on the surface. though consumed to the equivalent of 80 mmHg at sea level.12 Partial Pressure Ð mmHg rate. it is the carbon dioxide level that stimulates one to breathe. so there is no oxygendeprivation distress at depth. or even holding the breath for short periods will restore CO2 to normal levels. At “S” (surface).6. is 150 mmHg at the 33 fsw.5 Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Carbon monoxide (CO) is a poisonous gas. the chart illustrates that the arterial tension of CO 2 is 40 mmHg and O 2 at 100 mmHg. a significant amount of oxygen has been utilized. At 33 fsw (RB) oxygen has been used up and there has been little or no real increase in CO2. rest. the carbon dioxide rises slightly to 44 mmHg (LB).12 depicts the changes in partial pressures of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the arterial blood on a free dive to 33 fsw (2 ata) and subsequent return to the surface.

Rapid deep breathing may progress to cessation of breathing. Use oil with an appropriate flash point if using an oil-lubricated compressor. Treatment: The victim should be given fresh air and. or from an air supply in which the supply valve is not wide open. or skin. This condition is commonly known as “black lung” and is prevented by not allowing oil vapor in the diver’s breathing gas and by ensuring that only approved oil is used in diving compressors.0 % 3. and maintained equipment minimizes resistance to the flow of breathing gas. CO behaves in halftime fashion. it makes breathing more difficult.TABLE 3. the resistive forces from restrictions in and lengths of the airways. Keep equipment well tuned and serviced regularly. Direct. nailbeds. nausea. another 5 1/2 hours must pass for the next 25 percent to leave. doubling the flow rate increases breathing resistance by four times. 2.3 % 1. Air intakes on compressors must be protected to avoid carbon monoxide contamination. The body compensates for high breathing resistance by reducing ventilation—easily demonstrated by breathing through a narrow tube.2. such as headache or nausea. Continuous Exposure Level of CO 50 ppm 40 ppm 30 ppm 20 ppm 10 ppm _ HbCO in Blood 8. fitting. The classic sign of CO poisoning. dizziness. NOTE Oil of any kind is dangerous if breathed into the diverÕs lungs. and those of supplemental breathing apparatuses.6. 3. Contamination of a scuba cylinder of air with CO can come from fumes drawn into the compressor intake. particularly during hard work. breathing hoses. Work-of-breathing increases with high resistance to gas flow in poorly tuned scuba regulators. “cherry-red” lips. An unconscious victim should be treated in accordance with the procedures 3. and so on. and from tight equipment and exposure suits. a feeling of tightness in the head. Once petroleum particles enter the lungs they remain there for a long time.4 % 6. The treatment of choice is hyperbaric oxygen therapy in a recompression chamber. Signs and Symptoms: Carbon monoxide poisoning usually produces no symptoms until the victim loses consciousness. oxygen. and mouthpieces may increase turbulent flow to the point of increasing work-of-breathing. Small-bore snorkels. There may be abnormal redness or blueness of lips.2.) in a hyperbaric chamber. the body reaches a limit. Some regulators are not designed to handle deep depths or high breathing needs. rendering it difficult and time consuming to eliminate from the body once inhaled. breathe normally. or clumsiness. while others may be unresponsive or display poor judgement.7 % 0. valves.3 EFFECTS OF PRESSURE Effects of pressure may be arbitrarily divided into two main categories: 1. If breathing resistance is high.2). may or may not occur and is therefore not a reliable diagnostic aid. At three ata (66 ft. 3-12 NOAA Diving Manual .6. like nitrogen.7 % 5. As work-of-breathing increases. That is. Some effects. Effects from changes in the partial pressure of inspired gases during descent and ascent. 3. These fumes can come from the exhaust of an internal combustion engine or from partial combustion of lubricating oil in a compressor not properly operated or maintained. small-diameter exhaust valves. 5 1/2 hours pass before half the CO leaves the body. Breathing resistance can increase with gas density. it will accept increased carbon dioxide rather than perform the increased respiratory work required to maintain a normal CO2 level in the tissues. and hoses. Breathing 100 percent oxygen at the surface reduces the half-time to just under 1 1/2 hours. To reduce work-of-breathing. can increase breathing resistance. Some victims experience headache. Smoking cigarettes creates carboxyhemoglobin in the blood. At sea level breathing regular air.2 Carboxyhemoglobin Relative to CO Exposure outlined in Chapter 21. mechanical effects during descent and ascent. past a point. Diving-industry standards call for air suppliers to adhere to air-quality standards. the half-time is about 23 minutes. Excess breathing resistance has been implicated in some diving accidents. if available. weakness.7 Lipoid Pneumonia Lipoid pneumonia can result if a diver breathes gas containing suspended petroleum vapor.6 Excessive Resistance to Breathing “Work-of-breathing” is the amount of effort involved with inhaling against the elastic resistance of the chest walls. Well-designed. Resistance increases to the square of the increased flow rate. The exhaled breath of a smoker can contain more carbon monoxide than NOAA allows in its compressed air for diving (see Table 3. confusion. which increases with depth. may persist after the exposure has ended.5 % (non-smoker) Hemoglobin binds with CO 200 to 300 times more readily than O2. Rapid breathing patterns increase turbulence which.

250 fsw (1.3.Semicircular Canals Incus Vestibular Nerve Facial Nerve Cochlear Nerve Cochlea Oval Window Round Window Malleus Tympanic Membrane External Auditory Canal Stapes (Stirrup) Eustachian Tube Throat FIGURE 3. middle. Air spaces are not affected as long as pressure inside the air space is the same as pressure outside. making the middle ear susceptible to pressure problems. FIGURE 3.14 Tympanic Membrane (Ear Drum) Diving Physiology 3-13 .3. means weight or pressure.1. This section covers barotrauma during descent. as pressure increases on the air spaces of the ears. Pressure increases do not affect the liquid areas of the body which are essentially incompressible and do not change shape or distort. If openings to the air space are blocked on descent or ascent preventing pressure equalization.1 Ears The ear has three divisions: outer. lungs. when pressure increases volume decreases. delicate. incus. 3. The middle ear has three small bones (malleus. the air spaces can be mechanically distorted and injured. and inner (see Figures 3. The outer ear collects sound waves and channels them through the ear canal to the ear drum which begins the middle ear (see Figure 3. Each division functions separately to convert sound waves into nerve impulses going to the brain. The Greek word baros.500 fsw (682 psia). Injury from pressure change is called barotrauma. divers have been exposed to pressures equivalent to 2.016 psia). The outer ear is comprised of the outer projecting portion and the ear canal. The last of the three middle ear bones.1 Direct Effects of Pressure During Descent The body can withstand great hydrostatic pressure.13 Principle Parts of the Ear 3. oval membrane called the oval window. and trauma means injury. sinuses.14). in experimental situations. the stirrup. Divers have made open-sea dives to over 1. and in certain pieces of diving equipment. It is a closed air space.13). stapes) which intensify sound waves from the ear drum and transforms them into mechanical vibrations going to the inner ear through a small. The middle ear is a tiny air cavity in the temporal bone on both sides of the skull.

When the drug wears off. preferably down the anchor line or descent line. nose. or the blood vessels will leak and rupture to allow enough bleeding in the middle ear to equalize pressure. The closed. As water pressure increases relative to middle ear pressure. Receptor cells in the inner ear receive mechanical vibrations. 3-14 NOAA Diving Manual . called labyrinths. Signs and Symptoms: • Fullness or pressure in region of the external ear canals • Squeaking sound • Pain • Blood or fluid from external ear • Rupture of ear drum Prevention: • Use of solid ear plugs are prohibited in diving. negative pressure in the middle ear continues to stress the eardrum. separate function of the inner ear pertains to location. and throat specialist. The second. or before. Conditions contributing to stuffiness include acute or chronic inflammatory illness. Start equalizing as soon as pressure is felt. but easily preventable. Injuries to the eardrum or inner ear may occur with as little as three pounds of pressure differential and can happen at any depth. yawning. • Stop descent if ear blockage or fullness develops. greater congestion and equalization problems can reoccur. Ear squeeze is common among divers. flying.5 inches (3. During descent. Either the ear drum will rupture. If one has an upper respiratory infection of any kind. frequent upperrespiratory infections. even if you must return to the surface. it creates an uncomfortable relative vacuum in the middle ear. Another delicate structure separating middle and inner ear is the round window. The eustachian tubes open as middle-ear volume changes when swallowing and chewing. or gently blowing against a closed mouth and nostrils. • Fit of diving hoods and earphones should be adjusted so that they do not completely cover or seal the external ear canal during ascent or descent. The eustachian tube is about 1. Use them cautiously because a rebound phenomenon can occur. Membranes line the airways in the head. The ear drum bows inward. or chronic sinus trouble. • Don’t wait for ear pain to start before equalizing. or while on dry land. Round-window rupture requires surgical repair. • Equalize gently. If you have chronic nasal obstruction. DO NOT DO A FORCEFUL VALSALVA MANEUVER BEFORE OR DURING DESCENT OR ASCENT. which allows air from the throat to enter the middle ear through the eustachian tube. change them to neural impulses. allergy. OR TOO VIGOROUS AUTO INFLATION OF THE MIDDLE EAR SPACE USING A VALSALVA MANEUVER (ATTEMPTING TO EXHALE THROUGH CLOSED NOSTRILS). Care should be taken before irrigation to guarantee that there is no ear drum perforation behind the obstructing wax. Successful methods of equalizing middle-ear pressure are swallowing. water pressure increases against the ear drum. If one does not equalize pressure. fluid-filled inner ear has two parts. allowing air to pass and equalize pressure.” or barotitis media. expanding the blood vessels of the eardrum and middle-ear lining. Avoid forceful blowing. see an ear. This is “middle-ear squeeze.attaches directly to the oval window. CAN TRANSFER PRESSURE AGAINST OVAL OR ROUND WINDOWS. so pressure changes on the ear drum from sound waves or diving amplify greatly on the oval window. don’t dive until the infection has cleared. OR EVEN RUPTURE THEM. When you are upside down in water. See a physician. • Accumulated wax that can obstruct the ear canal should be removed by gently irrigating the canal with a lukewarm water solution. nasal allergies. Systemic and topical drugs may improve nasal and sinus function and middle-ear equalization. allowing air or water to enter the middle ear and equalize the pressure. Ascend until symptoms resolve. Pressure equalization of the middle ear is ongoing. The middle ears connect to the throat by the eustachian tubes. allowing air to enter the middle ears for pressure equalization. Inner-ear injury may occur from rupture of the round window. Both have intricate shapes. The oval window is 20 times smaller than the ear drum. the ear drum can stretch only so far. motion. and transmit them to the brain. mastoid or ear disease.8 cm) long in the adult. LEADING TO VERTIGO AND SOMETIMES PERMANENT HEARING LOSS. particularly with nasal spray. and balance. Upper respiratory infection (URI) may reduce or prevent equalization. WARNING BECAUSE OF THE DANGER OF EAR DAMAGE. don’t dive. WARNING MIDDLE EAR SQUEEZE. It’s usually more difficult to equalize during descent than ascent because the air passes out of the middle ear through the eustachian tube more easily than into the middle ear. whether diving. compressing air in the middle ear. the membranes of the air passages swell and narrow. however. and gravity affects blood in the vessels within the membranes. using a rubber bulb syringe. • Descend feet first. Treatment: Ear drum rupture should be treated according to the procedures for treating middle ear barotrauma. initially equalizing pressure. If one has difficulty equalizing on the surface. and prolonged use of nasal spray. irritation from smoking.

a condition called thoracic squeeze would develop. In sinusitis. there is no compressed air supply. and antihistamines taken by mouth. 3. It used to be thought that the lungs compress by the simple pressure-volume relationship of Boyle’s Law. hollow space. or polyps. Don’t dive if you have congested sinuses. or cavity in a bone.1.15 Sinus Cavities in the Head At Depth At Surface FIGURE 3. Lung spaces compress with increasing depth (see Figure 3. Hemorrhage into the sinus may occur. Signs and Symptoms: • Sensation of fullness or pain in the vicinity of the involved sinus or in the upper teeth • Numbness of the front of the face • Bleeding from the nose Treatment: The treatment of sinus squeeze may involve the use of nasal decongestants. air cavities in the facial bones of the head. At such low volume. When blockage occurs during descent. depending on the size of the lungs. paired.16). Most of the symptoms of paranasal sinus barotrauma disappear within five to ten days without serious complications. Various overthe-counter and prescription medications open sinus passages.15. or masses block sinus openings. or 40 m) lung volume would compress to 1/5 volume. Sinus barotrauma can also occur during ascent if blockage of a oneway valve of the sinus. congestion.2 Sinuses The term “sinus” can mean any channel. These medications will promote nasal mucosal shrinkage and opening of the sinus. so nasal infections spread easily to the sinuses.3 Lungs On a breath-hold dive. most often sinus refers to the four. mucous membranes inflame and swell. If nasal inflammation.16 Effect of Descent/Ascent on Lungs Diving Physiology 3-15 . vasoconstrictors.Frontal Sinus Frontal Sinus Ethmoid Sinus Maxillary Sinus Sphenoid Sinus Frontal Sinus Cranial Cavity Ethmoid Sinus Sphenoid Sinus Ethmoid Sinus Maxillary Sinus Sphenoid Sinus 3. closing sinus openings and preventing infected material from draining. If a decongestant wears off during your dive. absorbing pre-existing gas which forms negative pressure. This can lead to a reverse block on ascent. Individuals with a history of nasal or sinus problems should have a complete otolaryngologic evaluation before beginning to dive.3. mucus-lined. but impairs it on ascent. Maxillary Sinus Pharynx Opening to Eustachian Tube FIGURE 3.3. a specialist should be seen promptly.1. with or without fever. swelling. the sinus lining swells and inflames. Divers who have symptoms for longer periods should see a specialist. which can become less than residual volume. So lung pressure cannot be equalized with ambientpressure. or a dilated area in a blood vessel or soft tissue. including pulmonary congestion. the sinuses become closed spaces (rebound effect) containing high pressure air. that is at five times surface pressure (132 ft. the relative vacuum in the sinus increases the risk of damage. cysts. Sinus cavities are shown in Figure 3. and hemorrhage of the lung tissue. The same kind of membrane lines the sinuses and nose. If severe pain and nasal bleeding are present or if there is a yellow or greenish nasal discharge. deformities. by inflamed mucosa. allows equalization on descent.

Breath-holding or insufficient exhalation can create general lung barotrauma.1. Without equalization. If expanding air ruptures the lung. they should not be attempted without extraordinary preparation and training. The diver should be placed face down. the diver requires assistance to the surface. The dive accident management plan should be initiated. the lungs will overinflate. and bleeding can occur in the mucous membrane lining the eyelid (conjunctiva). (122 m) have been successful. Record free dives to over 400 ft. obstruction from chronic or acute respiratory diseases. During ascent. there is no problem. or bronchospasm with asthma. If expanding air is blocked from exiting. Signs and Symptoms: • Sensation of suction on the face. protecting them against direct water pressure. thus damaging the alveoli and bronchial passages. If breathing has ceased. 3. the body has many self-regulatory abilities. Such dives are not without other dangers. called hyphema. air vents harmlessly out of the mask. Lung volume can fall below residual volume without the damage previously thought.2. Attendants should be alert 3-16 NOAA Diving Manual . mask pressure is equalized by exhaling through the nose during descent.1 Lungs—Pneumothorax If breathing is normal and there are not any lung lesions or conditions that obstruct air flow. cardiopulmonary resuscitation with oxygen should be administered. Thoracic squeeze does not readily occur. as decreasing pressure affects the lungs. the services of a physician knowledgeable in diving medicine should be obtained.17). bruising. and the space behind contact lenses. A more serious injury can also occur — blood in the anterior chamber of the eye.3. and blood should be cleared from the mouth.17 Consequences of Overinflation of the Lungs However. overinflation occurs and increases the possibility of overpressurization injury. even at far greater depths. teeth. ambient pressure decreases and air in the body’s air spaces expands. 3. Swelling. normally airless area between lungs and chest wall (see Figure 3.4 Eyes Non-compressible fluids fill the eyes. This injury is called pneumothorax. When expanding air is blocked from venting.3. air escapes into the small. or of mask being forced into face • Pain or a squeezing sensation • Face swollen or bruised • Whites of eyes bright red Treatment: Ice packs should be applied to the damaged tissues and pain relievers may be administered if required. lungs will vent expanding air on ascent without problem. negative pressure in the mask space creates suction on the eyes and lids. Use of a mask preserves underwater vision. In serious cases. When this air vents freely. Compression during descent shifts blood from the extremities and abdomen into thoracic blood vessels.Cerebral Gas Embolism for symptoms of shock.2 Direct Effects of Pressure During Ascent During ascent. and treatment for shock should be instituted.3. Signs and Symptoms: • Feeling of chest compression during descent • Pain in the chest • Difficulty in breathing on return to the surface • Bloody sputum Treatment: In severe cases of lung squeeze. can result in localized lung overpressure and barotrauma. maintaining a larger than predicted lung volume. To prevent mask squeeze. Air Passes Along Bronchi To Mediastinum (Emphysema) Air Enters Pleural Cavity (Pneumothorax) Air Enters Blood Vessel (Embolism) FIGURE 3. This section covers barotrauma during ascent. if necessary. but introduces an air-space around the eyes that must be equalized with ambient pressure during descent. gastrointestinal tract. Air Passes Via Carotid Arteries To Brain (Embolism) Alveoli Ruptured 3.

A simple pneumothorax is a one time leaking of air into the pleura cavity. Air rupturing the lung walls vents air into the pleural cavity. simple and tension. or. difficulty breathing.3. This gas expands on ascent. Signs and Symptoms: • Pain under the breastbone that may radiate to the neck. WARNING DO NOT HOLD BREATH WHEN ASCENDING USING SCUBA OR SURFACE-SUPPLIED EQUIPMENT. increasing pressure in the chest cavity. A lung may collapse. • Monitor ABC (airway.18). causing sudden severe pain. shortness of breath. fainting from impaired blood return to the heart (see Figure 3. collarbone. Heart FIGURE 3. or nailbeds • Difficulty in breathing • Shock • Swelling around the neck • A brassy quality to the voice • A sensation of pressure on the windpipe • Cough • Deviation of adams apple to affected side Treatment: • ABC • Administer oxygen and monitor for shock • Examine diver for other signs of pulmonary barotrauma The lungs are attached to the chest wall by a thin. lips. Signs and Symptoms: • Difficulty or rapid breathing • Leaning toward affected side • Hypotension • Cyanosis and shock • Chest pain (deep breath hurts) • Shortness of breath • Decreased or absent lung sounds on affected side • Rapid. The most familiar type of emphysema usually results from smoking or other lung pollution. thus progressively enlarging the air pocket.Bubbles Treatment: Simple Pneumothorax • Normally improves with time as air is reabsorbed. • ABC. A tension pneumothorax is a repeated leaking of air from the lungs into the pleural cavity with each successive breath.18 Lungs Ñ Pneumothorax WARNING A DIVER WHO HAS HAD AN OVERPRESSURE ACCIDENT MUST BE EXAMINED IMMEDIATELY BY A DIVING MEDICAL DOCTOR . which holds open the lungs. • Transport to nearest medical facility. or shoulder • Shortness of breath • Faintness • Blueness (cyanosis) of the skin. shallow breathing • Death Diving Physiology 3-17 . A large amount of air between pleural membranes prevents the lungs from expanding. rarely. Tension Pneumothorax • Position patient on injured side. 3. There are two types of pneumothorax. • Transport immediately to nearest medical facility (air must be vented from chest cavity). and permanently overexpands and damages alveoli. major blood vessels. in general. in extreme cases. air escapes from a lung overpressurization into tissues around the heart. means an abnormal distention of body tissues from retention of air. making a suction between the layers. paired membrane called the pleura.2 Lungs—Mediastinal Emphysema Emphysema. Trapped intrapleural gas expands as ascent continues.19). breathing. In mediastinal emphysema. causing pain under the sternum (breast-bone). and the heart may push out of normal position. and trachea (windpipe). breaking the suction. The two pleural membranes lie so close to each other that they touch. and. A watery fluid lubricates the layer between them. • Treat for shock and administer 100 percent oxygen. coughing frothy blood or death from shock (see Figure 3. • Monitor for signs of tension pneumothorax.2. and circulation) and administer 100 percent oxygen.

Arterial gas embolism may occur quickly after surfacing with damage depending on the area involved. Symptoms of arterial gas embolism usually occur immediately or within five minutes of surfacing. partial or complete • Numbness or tingling (paresthesias) • Weakness or paralysis • Loss of. Prompt recompression is the only treatment for gas embolism. Signs and Symptoms: • Feeling of fullness in the neck area • Swelling or inflation around the neck and upper chest • Crackling sensation when skin is palpated • Change in sound of voice • Cough Treatment: Unless complicated by gas embolism. If air bubbles enter the pulmonary veins.4 Arterial Gas Embolism An arterial gas embolism occurs when a bubble of gas (or air) causes a blockage of the blood supply to the heart. 3.19). or change in.3. or all of the symptoms listed below may be present.3.19 Lungs Ñ Mediastinal Emphysema and Subcutaneous Emphysema • Mediastinal emphysema causing respiratory or circulatory impairment may require recompression. those tissues die. 3. or other vital tissue (see Figure 3. The services of a physician should be obtained and oxygen should be administered if breathing is impaired. Arterial gas embolism may be abbreviated AGE. the volume of gas in the lungs increases due to a reduction in ambient pressure. FIGURE 3. they reach a point where they can move no further.20 Arterial Gas Embolism When a diver holds his breath or has local air trapped in his lungs during ascent. One. Signs and Symptoms: • Chest pain • Cough or shortness of breath • Bloody. which makes the blockage worse.2. • Transport to the nearest medical facility.20). recompression is not normally required. A cerebral (brain) arterial gas embolism is abbreviated CAGE. a few. frothy sputum • Headache • Visual disturbances including blindness. they travel to the left side of the heart muscle.Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles Bubbles Capillaries Aorta Heart Heart Pulmonary Vein FIGURE 3. Deprived of oxygen. brain. and here they stop circulation. and then commonly on through the carotid arteries to embolize the brain. As the bubbles pass into smaller arteries. It can be associated with mediastinal emphysema or can occur alone (see Figure 3.3 Lungs—Subcutaneous Emphysema Subcutaneous emphysema results from air forced into tissues beneath the skin of the neck.2. There is no way to predict which area will be affected. Alveoli can rupture or air can be forced across apparently intact alveoli. The bubble tends to increase in size as the pressure decreases (Boyle’s Law). sensation over part of body • Dizziness 3-18 NOAA Diving Manual .

Affected divers Diving Physiology 3-19 . the gas will expand on ascent. Severe injury is rare.5 Stomach and Intestine Only a small amount of gas is normally present in the small intestine at any time. Complete endodontic therapy before diving. With a hernia. most is usually absorbed back through the intestinal mucosa. inform the dentist of diving status. Prevention: • Never hold your breath when diving with compressed gases • Ascend slowly (30 feet per minute) • Do not dive with a chest cold or obstructed air passages • Maintain good physical fitness. It may help to keep the legs moving. Despite the decreased chance of recovery if therapy is delayed. but prevention is worth keeping in mind. and initiate cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Any air remaining in the stomach and large intestine compresses with descent and returns to normal volume on ascent. Before undergoing any dental work. Should GI distress occur on ascent.2. Victims should not be taken back into the water for treatment. the patient must not be exposed to decreased cabin pressure during transit.3. To prevent gastrointestinal (GI) barotrauma. have cavities filled and ill-fitting crowns replaced. Although gas enters or forms in larger quantities. Ambient pressure pushing on a stomach full of gas can cause belching or back flow of stomach contents (heartburn). including neurological examination. neither hazardous nor noticeable. if necessary • Administer 100 percent oxygen with the injured diver supine or in recovery position • Transport to nearest medical facility and initiate recompression treatment ASAP • Perform a physical examination. as soon as situation permits • Provide additional life support measures • Reassess diver’s condition regularly Rescuers and attendants must be aware that many embolism patients are also near-drowning victims. gum infections that have formed periodontal pockets. Other causes of tooth squeeze include recent extractions. and avoid large meals and gas-producing food and drink before diving. recent fillings. patients have responded even after several hours delay. try various over-the-counter. Tooth pain has been reported during air travel as well. Exposure to higher pressures can produce small leaks that cannot release air fast enough during ascent. In extreme cases.6 Teeth Barodontalgia means “tooth pain. breathe normally. Administer 100 percent oxygen with a tight-fitting oronasal mask by demand/positive-pressure valve or non-rebreather mask at 15-lpm. 3.2. normally. aircraft capable of being pressurized to sea level must be used. and hydration • Carry sufficient quantities of gas to complete the dive Treatment: • Establish and maintain ABC. Gas accumulated slowly during a saturation dive has been known to (rarely) cause tooth cracking and even explosion. get medical attention.7 Contact Lenses Bubbles have been found in the precorneal film of tears beneath hard contact lenses after ascent. Injured diver position should not be allowed to interfere with the immediate administration of CPR.3. Keep teeth clean. The intestines are surrounded by soft tissue so compression and expansion are. If you add enough gas to the system while under water. The air space may be generated by decay resulting in an area for gas to collect under a filling. and slowly re-ascend. A helicopter or unpressurized aircraft must be flown as low as is safely possible.2. 3. Trapped air can shatter full porcelain crowns in teeth where the cement bond is failing. and recent root canal therapy. If air transportation is required. or a prior gas-producing meal. 3. nutrition. These gases can be generated by swallowing air. or within the intestine from carbon dioxide liberated by reactions between gastric and pancreatic juices. expanding gas trapped in a loop of bowel could make the hernia irreducible. descend to relieve discomfort. Position the injured diver in a supine or the recovery position. anti-gas preparations. Tooth squeeze is not common. large areas of decay where the pulp is infected. If surfacing is necessary before relieving pressure.• Confusion • Sudden unconsciousness (usually immediately after surfacing. Part of the root canal procedure is to dry and temporarily seal the canal between treatments with a material designed for pressure of one atmosphere. consequently. The chances of full recovery decrease with each minute lost in returning the patient to pressure. and transport the patient as rapidly as possible to a medical facility for recompression treatment. abscesses. but sometimes before surfacing) • Respiratory arrest • Death WARNING ARTERIAL GAS EMBOLISM IS LIFE THREATENING AND REQUIRES IMMEDIATE TREATMENT. don’t swallow air.3. A gas embolism case is a minute-tominute emergency transfer.” It occurs when a small pocket of gas collected in a tooth during the dive expands on ascent.

impaired judgment. Mild euphoria.3). although. Gross delay in response to stimuli. decreased visual acuity. Diminished concentration.5-50-3 Effect Mild impairment of performance on unpracticed tasks. Despite the popular belief. Severe impairment of practical activity and judgment.5 30. Divers who wear contact lenses should use either soft lenses or hard fenestrated lenses (hard lenses with a special hole drilled). at greater depths. and the ability to perform mental functions. sounds seem louder. May be terror reaction in some. Spatial orientation may become a matter of complete indifference.3 50. Of course. Even if pleasant. or the location of a buddy. Delayed response to visual and auditory stimuli.3 Narcotic Effects of Compressed Air Diving Guideline Depths Feet 0-100 100 100-165 Meters 0-30.e.5 experienced soreness.5 300 91. Stupefaction. hallucinations.3-70. Wide variations in susceptibility occur. Deterioration in handwriting.3 Indirect Effects of Pressure During Descent Indirect effects of pressure occur from changes in the partial pressure of the gases in the breathing mix. Physical problems include decreased motor ability and slowed reaction time. Mental confusion. Reasoning and immediate memory affected more than motor coordination and choice reactions.1-91. most compressed-air divers are affected (see Table 3. narcosis does not slow respiration. 165 165-230 50.3. Helium causes minimal narcosis. high pressure nervous syndrome (HPNS). Consult with an ophthalmologist. Severe narcosis can produce hallucinations. bizarre behavior. Dizziness reported occasionally. Dive plan information may be forgotten. short-term memory. making it difficult to monitor time. orientation. Sleepiness. Almost total loss of intellectual and perceptive faculties. Idea fixation and overconfidence. hyperexcitablity.1 70. Laughter and loquacity may be overcome by self control. i. judgment. there are other factors involved in this complex and incompletely understood phenomenon. The most common inert gas narcosis is nitrogen narcosis. Narcosis is dangerous because it increases the risk of an accident while diminishing the ability to cope with one. 3. time perception. narcosis may play an important role in diving hypothermia. depth.5 91. Two other inert gases used in experimental diving are 3-20 NOAA Diving Manual . This section covers inert gas narcosis. High pressure dissolves gas in the protein coverings of nerve cell membranes. making it useful at depths where nitrogen narcosis would incapacitate a diver. Uncontrolled laughter approaching hysteria in some. Increased auditory sensitivity.5 30.TABLE 3. and oxygen toxicity. Although often portrayed as such. Convivial group atmosphere. 3. Impairment increases with depth. Effects can be unpleasant or frightening. Severe impairment of intellectual performance. Because it decreases perceptions of cold and decreases heat production. narcosis is not always rapturous or intoxicating. The gases producing narcosis have no effect if they are not breathed under pressure. Talkative. air supply.3. particularly in limited visibility or cold water. Narcosis is often first noticed at approximately 100 feet (31 m) when breathing compressed air.1 Inert Gas Narcosis Inert gas narcosis is a condition of confusion or stupor resulting from increased pressure of dissolved inert gas. narcosis impairs intellectual capacities. and the appearance of halos around lights for about two hours after ascent. or loss of consciousness. depressing nerve excitability and interfering with signals. reasoning. euphoria. Manual dexterity less affected. Mental abnormalities and memory defects.1 230 230-300 300 70. Hallucinations (similar to those caused by hallucinogenic drugs rather than alcohol). Calculation errors.3.

alcohol. though divers who have experienced narcosis may not remember events occurring at depth. First noted in the 1960s. Signs and Symptoms: • Loss of judgment and skill • A false feeling of well being • Lack of concern for job or safety • Inappropriate laughter • Euphoria Prevention and Treatment: There is no specific treatment for nitrogen narcosis. At that time. all living things have enzymes and other mechanisms that protect against oxygen’s toxicities.21) is a simple way to remember all the signs and symptoms of CNS oxygen toxicity. and hangovers. Interestingly. Typically. exponential compression rates. including tunnel vision – Ear ringing – Nausea – Tingling. intellectual and psychomotor performance decrements. The lung is the principal organ affected. A classical symptom of whole-body toxicity is pulmonary irritation. A diver experiencing narcosis must be brought to a shallower depth. Adding a small amount (5-10%) of nitrogen into the breathing mix reduces HPNS. 3. fatigue and somnolence. It is important to note that these symptoms may come in any order. dyspnea FIGURE 3.3. These may warn of an impending convulsion. dizziness. oxygen may also act as an inert gas and produce narcosis (Bennett and Elliott 1993). anxiety. In fact. they are justification to stop a dive. Not onerous in themselves. and careful personnel selection. anxiety – Dizziness.3. anxiety. difficulty in breathing (dyspnea). but this is highly variable) (Lambertsen 1978). steady compression. and unusual fatigue. To the extent that it is present in certain tissues. or sedating recreational drugs. At high pressure. 3.3. nitrogen is a neural depressant. This is consistent with the view that narcosis depresses the central nervous system (CNS). particularly the lungs. Divers have been known to “black out” or go unconscious without a convulsion. twitching or muscle spasms. Therefore. it can develop within a few to many minutes on exposure to partial pressures of oxygen above 1.21 CNS Oxygen Toxicity Signs and Symptoms 3. The acronym CONVENTID (see Figure 3. cold. Symptoms are Diving Physiology 3-21 . Medications that might cause drowsiness or reduce alertness.3. fatigue. Neon is not narcotic. stage compression with long intervals. so it was called helium tremors.6 atm (roughly 5 to 50 min. however. the result of oxygen’s effect on the lung. 3. euphoria. nausea. Con V E N T I D – Convulsion – Visual disturbances. the term “wholebody” toxicity is used to include the affected parts of the body other than the CNS. HPNS was initially thought to be an effect of breathing helium. but can result in drowning or physical injury.3. vomiting. restlessness.3. The end result may be an epileptic-like convulsion that is not damaging in itself. nausea. Narcosis rapidly reverses with ascent. also contribute to narcosis.3. visual or hearing disturbances. a convulsion is just as likely to occur without any warning.3. even after short exposures.neon and argon. it should be no great surprise that in excess it can be toxic. and poor sleep with nightmares. but many other parts of the body can be affected as well. Several factors can compound the effects of narcosis: CO2. HPNS is characterized by dizziness.2 High Pressure Nervous Syndrome (HPNS) High pressure nervous syndrome (HPNS) occurs at depths greater than 400 fsw (123 msw). Whole-body oxygen toxicity is generally of little concern to divers doing nostop dives. but it may be seen during intensive diving operations or during long oxygen treatments for decompression sickness in a hyperbaric chamber. this may be a manifestation of oxygen toxicity. Such a symptom usually takes hours or longer to develop from exposure levels that may be lower than those that cause CNS symptoms. it appears that too high an oxygen level can leave some oxygen in the tissues unmetabolized. argon is narcotic at deeper depths.1 CNS: Central Nervous System CNS oxygen toxicity can occur at the high end of PO2 levels. There are other signs and symptoms of CNS toxicity. stomach cramps. where the effects will be reversed.3. however. such as motion sickness remedies and sedatives. They include twitching of lips and facial muscles. especially of the face and lips – Irritability.3. There are two types of oxygen poisoning for which divers must be concerned: those affecting the central nervous system (CNS). sudden muscle twitching (called myoclonic jerking). HPNS becomes worse with increasing pressure and rate of compression.2 Lung and “Whole-Body” Slower developing oxygen toxicities may follow exposure to lower levels of oxygen for longer times. and those affecting many other parts of the body more generally. postural and intention tremors.3 Oxygen Toxicity Given oxygen’s metabolic effects. Other methods of preventing or reducing HPNS include slow. poor coordination. even when breathing oxygen-enriched mixtures. helium was the most commonly used diluent gas for diving at deeper depths. confusion.

3. For single dives to a single depth (square profile).” Actually. Susceptibility to CNS toxicity is increased by certain factors. it is rare that a diver is ever at one depth for the entire dive. but a large part can be attributed to known environmental and physiological circumstances. This helps lower the accumulated oxygen dose. one or more dives in a 24-hour period have reached or exceeded the limits for a normal single exposure.S. calculating the percentage of oxygen exposure is as simple as dividing the minutes of the exposure by the maximum allowable exposure time at a given PO2. However. it is customary to add the percentages or fractions of exposure for different parts of the dive to calculate an estimated total oxygen exposure for a given dive. observation. Although the principle has not been verified experimentally.3.3.3. Diving with procedures described in this chapter imposes a relatively low risk of oxygen toxicity. particularly those that cause an increase in internal PCO2. This avoids oxygen convulsions in all but very rare cases and also postpones pulmonary toxicity. breaks of five minutes of air breathing are taken every 20 or 30 minutes of oxygen breathing at high PO2 levels.3 Variations in Tolerance There is wide variation in susceptibility to oxygen toxicity among individuals. effects on the eyes. but they are not guaranteed to work for all people all of the time under all circumstances. to which the diver is exposed (U.6 Prevention of CNS Poisoning With the help of experts. If more than one dive is made to the maximum exposure of a PO2 of 1. 3. For each level of oxygen. The limits given here and in other limit-based algorithms (such as a decompression table) are recommended guidelines for use under normal conditions. Such an approach has been practiced by the U. The exposures are short and outside the limits that are expected to cause problems. the chart shows an allowable time for a single exposure and also an accumulated time at that level over a full day. tables for treatment of decompression sickness using oxygen.6 ata. breathing dense gas. and a significant variation in a single individual at different times. NOAA developed estimated oxygen exposure limits that were published in the 1991 version of the NOAA Diving Manual. These differences make it difficult to predict the occurrence of CNS oxygen toxicity.3.3. such as exercise. the diver must spend a minimum of 12 hours at normoxic PO 2 before diving again.3. sampling.3. They have been proven in practice. headache. a development of fluid in the lungs. This only applies to the exposure at 1. In situations where supplemental oxygen or high oxygen content mixtures are used for decompression. and a reduction in vital capacity. dizziness. and a dramatic reduction of aerobic capacity during exercise. If. and physical exertion also increases ones susceptibility to CNS oxygen toxicity.3.3. a limit is a solid line drawn through a wide gray area of gradually increasing risk. or breathing against a resistance. inspection. or the “O2 limit fraction” as a decimal fraction of the limit (Hamilton 1988).3.S.3. If diving in a 24-hour period reaches the Maximum 24-hour Limit. dramatic changes of temperature. nausea. If “breaks” in periods of low oxygen are taken during oxygen breathing.6 ata.6 ata PO2).5 Concepts of Oxygen Exposure Management The traditional method used for prevention of CNS oxygen toxicity is to stay within exposure durations that are based on the oxygen level.N. it is strongly recommended that a five minute “air” break be taken every 20 minutes to minimize the risk of oxygen poisoning. They may need to be more conservative when conditions are more stressful.3.3. because only one maximal dive can be done in a single day with lower oxygen exposure levels. inability to take a deep breath without pain or coughing. 3. Navy and by NOAA for many years in their procedures for mixed gas and oxygen diving.chest pain or discomfort.4 Benefits of Intermittent Exposure Oxygen poisoning can be reduced or postponed by interrupting the exposure time (U. These limits allow a certain time at each PO2 range. They are intended for a diver doing dives for research.3. Part of this latter variation is due to unknown causes.S. As with decompression. tolerance is greatly improved. and light to moderate work at the higher PO2 levels. Nonpulmonary symptoms of “whole-body” oxygen toxicity include skin numbness and itching. 3. however. coughing. These limits are shown in Table 3. or PO2. a limit appears to be implemented as if it were a solid line dividing “no problems” from “guaranteed problems. 3. 3. In the U. Immersion.7 The “Oxygen Clock” or “O2 Limit Fraction” These exposure limits are sometimes referred to as the “oxygen clock” in percentage of the allowable limit. a suggested surface interval of at least 90 minutes is advised between dives (three dives of 45 minutes each would theoretically be possible within the 150-minutes daily total allowed at 1.Navy Diving Manual 1999). The lower levels can be used for heavier and more stressful types of work.S. It is not necessary to have a dive computer to track these exposures if the dive can be separated into segments 3-22 NOAA Diving Manual .Navy Diving Manual 1999). They work for most people most of the time. the diver should spend a minimum of two hours at a normoxic PO2 (such as on the surface breathing air) before resuming diving.4.

at 1.60 Single Dive Single Dive Limit (minutes) Limit Min 210 195 180 165 150 135 120 82 45 Bottom Time Values (minutes) 25 30 35 40 12% 13% 14% 15% 17% 19% 21% 30% 56% 14% 15% 17% 18% 20% 22% 25% 36% 67% 17% 18% 19% 21% 23% 26% 29% 42% 78% 19% 21% 22% 24% 27% 30% 33% 48% 5 2% 3% 3% 3% 3% 4% 4% 6% 11% 10 5% 5% 6% 6% 7% 7% 8% 12% 22% 15 7% 8% 8% 9% 10% 11% 13% 18% 33% 20 10% 10% 11% 12% 13% 15% 17% 24% 44% 45 21% 23% 25% 27% 30% 33% 38% 55% 50 24% 26% 28% 30% 33% 37% 42% 61% 55 26% 28% 31% 33% 37% 41% 46% 67% 60 29% 31% 33% 36% 40% 44% 50% 73% 89% 100% 111% 122% 133% Note: Oxygen exposure is a percentage of NOAAÕs allowable limits.60 atm PO level.45 1. Table 3. it is possible to interpolate the limit values.5.25 1. it appears to work in practice.4 NOAA Oxygen Exposure Limits PO2 (atm) 1. Diving Physiology 3-23 .20 1.3 PO2. for which the allowable time is 180 minutes. and these can simply be added together. and further exposure to elevated oxygen is at increased risk.50 1. If there is additional exposure on the same dive.30 1.70 0. for example.35 1.60 atm than at a PO2 level of 1.0. an additional one-third. The times spent at each depth or exposure level can be assigned a fraction or percentage of the “allowable” limit.90 0.05Ó PO values are linearly interpolated.5 CNS Oxygen Exposure Table Oxygen Oxygen PO2 (atm) PO2 atm 1.30 1.5 allows these segments to be determined from a chart. For example.40 1.45 1.50 1.33 is added.0. 60 minutes at 1. TABLE 3.22). Diving beyond the limit is not recommended. or an O2 limit fraction of 1. Exposures at all levels are totaled. If a diver has an exposure to that level for 75 minutes. The NOAA oxygen exposure limits have been shown to be reasonable limits through extensive use.00 0.25 1.40 atm. When the total reaches 100 percent or 1. Highlighted percentages indicate times exceeding the NOAA oxygen exposure limits. giving an oxygen clock now of 83 percent or a limit fraction of 0. That is to say.20 1. the diver is considered to have reached the allowable limit.40 1.TABLE 3.83. this would run the oxygen clock to 50 percent of the limit or the limit fraction to 0.10 1.55 1. 33 percent or 0.80 0.35 1.4 atm the allowable exposure time is 150 minutes (see Figure 3. at any level the full limit on the oxygen clock is 100 percent of the limit. Although there has been no specific laboratory validation of this technique of interpolating the exposure times. the Òoxygen clockÓ runs more than 2 three times as fast at 1.55 1. Values for intermediate Ò0.60 1. The 1. For multilevel dives or more than one dive of less than maximum allowed duration. half the allowable time.60 Maximum Single Exposure (minutes) 45 83 120 135 150 165 180 195 210 240 300 360 450 570 720 Maximum per 24 hr (minutes) 150 165 180 180 180 195 210 225 240 270 300 360 450 570 720 that have a predominant or average level. 2 Values in table are normally rounded.

S. On continued exposure to above normal PO2. 1976. This process continues until the internal nitrogen pressure is again equal to ambient. and in treatments in a recompression chamber. not just theoretical numbers. It is when the diver will be conducting many dives over more than three days. Pulmonary oxygen toxicity. or at increased elevation on land. then travels to the lungs where it is exhaled. as a function of PO2 and time. At the laboratory of Dr. Half-times refer to the time in minutes necessary to uptake or eliminate enough nitrogen to fill or empty half the area with gas.40 atm 1. Nitrogen and carbon monoxide enter and leave the body in real and measurable units of time. At PO2 levels above this. especially the lungs. Lambertsen at the University of Pennsylvania. How fast the body areas equilibrate with ambient pressure depends on the volume of blood flow and the capacity of the area to absorb the dissolved gas. Table 3. counterdiffusion.22 Multi-Level Dive Oxygen Exposure 3. allows doses to be calculated or tabulated the same way using the same equation but calls the single dose unit. extra nitrogen begins coming back out of the body. still dissolved.5 atm PO2 below which toxicity development is insignificant. and where the exposures get lengthy. it has been used as the primary indicator for pulmonary toxicity. The unit dose for different exposure levels was determined by fitting a curve to empirical data.4 Indirect Effects of Pressure During Ascent This section covers inert gas elimination. generally at levels below those causing CNS toxicity but above a PO2 of 0.3.3. and it is helpful for the diver to be acquainted with the general methods and terminology (U. the lungs may show symptoms and a reduction in vital capacity. Half-times describe real biological processes. (Shilling et al.3. which is the time needed for half the nuclei in a specific isotopic to decay. more or less. Among the developments was a “unit” for measuring and tracking oxygen exposure. This triggers a cascade of problems that become decompression sickness (see Section 3.2). Tracking OTUs is not of great importance when the dives are of a no-stop nature. Subtracting the small water vapor pressure and arterial CO2 values gives the blood nitrogen tension. Ascend slowly enough and the nitrogen passes into the bloodstream. Giving up gas is called elimination or offgassing.4.Navy Diving Manual 1999).1 Inert Gas Elimination Even on land there is pressure on the body. This toxicity appears to have a threshold at 0. which includes “look-up” tables for deriving doses from exposure data. and aseptic bone necrosis (dysbaric osteonecrosis). the dose increases more rapidly as the PO2 increases. including the Underwater Handbook. The dose measure was conceived around a basic unit of exposure equivalent to one minute of breathing 100 percent oxygen at a pressure of one atm. This. that OTU tracking will be of significant value. water pressure increases the nitrogen dissolved in the body. The units are called half-times.8 Prevention of Lung or Whole-Body Toxicity Other parts of the body are sensitive to excess oxygen. procedures have been developed for managing this toxicity. At depth.4. The total for a given “mission” or exposure period is given in the third column.Oxygen PO2 1.6 gives the empirically determined Repex limits for whole-body oxygen exposure. OTU or Oxygen Tolerance Unit (see Table 3. The Repex method provides procedures for avoiding toxic effects during extended operational exposures and takes recovery into account. CPTD. Table 3.3. designated the Repex method. Upon ascent. can become a problem in extended or repeated oxygen-based decompressions. Come up too fast and nitrogen can’t stay dissolved.6 ). p.3.5 atm. The method also used an additional dose term. It is not exactly the same as the ambient nitrogen pressure because water vapor and carbon dioxide from the body “dilutes” the air breathed. A more recent approach. is the starting nitrogen tension. Vital capacity is the maximum amount of gas that a person can exhale after taking a full inspiration. C. Taking up inert gas by the body is called absorption or on-gassing. they are not significantly more likely than in ordinary scuba diving with air. 3. A half-time is the same as a half-life of radioactivity. Different areas of the body are made of different materials 3-24 NOAA Diving Manual . It begins to become a gas again before it can be exhaled and forms bubbles inside the body. 158). The method does not include a means of calculating recovery when exposure is below 0. but the allowable daily dose decreases as exposure days increase. This pressure comes from the atmosphere and dissolves nitrogen everywhere in the body until the internal nitrogen pressure reaches about the same as nitrogen pressure in the blood. These conditions are unlikely to be encountered in nitrox diving. This equation is available in several references. decompression sickness.3. vital capacity is relatively easy to measure. empirical methods were developed in the early 1970s to use vital capacity as a monitor for pulmonary effects of oxygen exposure. Although it takes training to get reproducible data.30 atm Single Dive Actual Dive Limit Time 150 min 180 min Totals: 75 min 60 min 135 min % Limit 50% 33% 88% FIGURE 3. a measure of the Cumulative Pulmonary Toxicity Dose.7 facilitates calculating OTU or UPTD per minute for a range of PO2s. the UPTD or Unit Pulmonary Toxicity Dose. and in due course other whole-body aspects. 3. then deriving an equation to describe the curve. in fact. However.J. The Repex limits allow a greater exposure for a diver who has not been exposed recently.5 atm PO2.

00 Diving Physiology 3-25 .85 1. The areas that are grouped into each compartment designation might be scattered all over the body.6 REPEX Oxygen Exposure Chart for Tolerable Multiple Day Exposures Exposure Days 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15-30 OTU Average Dose 850 700 620 525 460 420 380 350 330 310 300 300 300 300 300 OTU Total Dose 850 1400 1860 2100 2300 2520 2660 2800 2970 3100 3300 3600 3900 4200 as required TABLE 3.65 1.00 1.75 0.70 1. In decompression.35 1.75 1.35 2.TABLE 3.00 1.37 0. these are called “slow” compartments.60 OTU Per Minute 0 0.48 1.92 2.25 1.74 0.14 2.85 1.47 0.32 1.7 OTU Calculation Table PO2 (atm) 0.90 0.49 and have varying blood supplies.15 0.65 0.15 1.40 1. while others do it faster.90 1.24 1.00 2.30 1.95 1. the term “tissue” or “compartment” means the different body areas that on-gas and off-gas at the same rate.80 1.65 0. These are called the slow and fast compartments.55 1.78 1.45 1.70 0. so some take up nitrogen slowly.08 1.70 1.10 1.27 0.85 0.80 0. For example.92 1.56 0.16 1.42 2.55 0.55 1.60 0.95 2.63 1.50 0.21 2.83 0.50 1. 1.05 1. and take longer than watery tissues to absorb and eliminate inert gas. fatty tissues hold more gas than watery tissues. Fast compartments usually build higher amounts of nitrogen after a dive than slower ones because they on-gas more in the same period of time.07 2.40 1.28 2.20 1. or tissues.

Still. release of vasoactive substances from cells lining the blood vessels. Faster compartments may be saturated. On ascent.0 percent. It will take another 60 minutes for the remaining 1/4 to move. Not all nitrogen passes directly back into the blood stream for direct off-gassing by exhalation. making the compartment 7/8 or 87. for example. In addition. It’s probably not true that asymptomatic bubbles form after every dive. even though tiny. while holding at a pressure slightly greater than the surface (Hamilton. 2000). pers. the entire body is saturated. these compartments have a lower pressure than the surrounding water. bubbles can provoke a cascade of defenses including blood coagulation. but it diffuses faster. the compartment will be 3/4 or 75 percent full (or depleted). so helium equilibration occurs faster than for nitrogen. as foreign invaders to the body. but allow more gas to be given off by the faster tissues. depriving vital areas of oxygen and waste removal. Bubbles form after many dives. Given enough time. pers. Decompression requirements are dictated by the on-gassing of inert gases. It takes six half-times before a compartment can fill or empty. During ascent. com. these are called silent bubbles. there is not enough time for total saturation. IT CAN ALSO OCCUR EVEN WHEN THE ACCEPTED GUIDELINES ARE BEING FOLLOWED PRECISELY. are too big to 3-26 NOAA Diving Manual . Bubbles. and 12 hours for the 120-minute halftime compartment to return to starting pressure—equilibration with ambient pressure on land. Fast tissues not only on-gas quickly. unless the veins are already torn. even as higher pressure. For practical purposes 99 percent is completely saturated or de-saturated. In four hours. it is called saturated.3. On most dives. the diver’s body tissues absorb nitrogen from the breathing gas in proportion to the surrounding pressure. During most dives. After ascending to the surface (or to a shallower level). Differences in solubility and rates of gas diffusion give different gases different half-times.8 percent exchanged and in five hours it will be 97. 3. Mixes rich in oxygen have proven to substantially improve decompression outcome when used as a supplemental decompression gas from both air and nitrox dives. com. No matter how much gas a compartment starts with. especially the slow compartments. damage. while slow compartments may be practically empty. Bubbles do not pass from body tissues into veins. A fast compartment like a five-minute compartment fills or empties in only 30 minutes (6 half-times x 5 minutes = 30 minutes). The slow 120-minute compartment fills and empties in 12 hours (6 half-times x 120 minutes = 720 minutes or 12 hours). the pressure of nitrogen in all the different compartments will eventually equal ambient pressure. high oxygen content mixtures can also be used to shorten decompression from the 30 fsw stop and deeper. and the body’s immune system reacts by coating the bubbles with lipoproteins. may continue to absorb nitrogen. pure oxygen can be used to shorten decompression on the 20 and 10 fsw stops. Nitrogen may pass from the higher pressure in one part of the body to the lower pressure in an adjacent one (Hamilton. the compartment will be 93. extravascular bubbles can compress and stretch blood vessels and nerves creating pain. This means that after any dive. From another perspective. However. oxygen can significantly enhance decompression. WARNING ALTHOUGH DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS MAY OCCUR AS A RESULT OF VIOLATING ACCEPTED SAFE DIVING PRACTICES. If the diver ascends too quickly. ambient pressure can drive nitrogen into slow tissues. thus increasing inert gas elimination from the body. also known as “the bends”) is the result of inadequate decompression following exposure to increased pressure. off-gassing is considered to proceed at the same half-time rate as ongassing.When a compartment fills to capacity. and disability. while other compartments attain middling pressure. they are not uncommon.2 Decompression Sickness Decompression sickness (DCS. By breathing 100 percent oxygen. the nitrogen may come out of solution and form bubbles in the body’s fluids and tissues. Decompression or safety stops taken near the surface on a recreational-type dive are favorable.4. 2000). even though the dive was far shorter in duration. they also off-gas quickly.5 percent full (or empty) in three hours (1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 = 7/8). This means a 60-minute compartment is full or empty in six hours. fast compartments off-gas. For example. which then denature and release circulating fat emboli. Bubbles cause damage in several ways: they can block blood and lymph circulation. and thus. A 60-minute compartment will half fill (or empty) with nitrogen in 60 minutes. It takes six halftimes for any compartment to become about 99 percent full or empty. it takes six half-times to empty. there isn’t time for slower compartments to equilibrate with ambient pressure. for practical applications like calculating decompression tables. equilibration at the new level may require 24 hours or so. or two hours total. They allow some extra gas to be taken up by the slow tissues. it takes six hours for the 60-minute compartment to return to its starting amount of nitrogen. however. the inert gas gradient is significantly increased. the diver’s tissues. Several complicated factors can slow the release of nitrogen from the body. Helium is much less soluble in tissues than nitrogen. the basic principles of absorption and elimination apply for any inert gas breathed. During a dive. often with no symptoms. After another 60 minutes. Half-time gas elimination is the reason. since six half-times x 60 minutes = 360 minutes or six hours.

and unconsciousness. Most medical experts today agree that decompression sickness is the result of complex individual. WARNING DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS MAY OCCUR EVEN IF DECOMPRESSION TABLES OR COMPUTERS ARE PROPERLY USED. varies in effect on different people.4. tunnel vision. Using Doppler electronics. and carbon dioxide retention. hypo-volemic shock. However. Individual factors have been explored but are not well understood. joint pain. These are called “silent bubbles” because they do not cause overt symptoms. Ultrasonic sound waves at too high a frequency to be heard are used in various ways in medical diagnosis. cardiopulmonary problems. but they do not drain into vessels intact.” paralysis. long-term brain changes occur with repeated exposure to decompression stress. and to what extent. loss of sphincter control. called cutis marmorata. Doppler bubble detection in venous blood has not proven to be useful for predicting DCS in a given diver. TIME AT DEPTH. It may produce almost any symptom: headache or visual disturbance. Bubbles can be “heard” moving through the circulation on the way to the lungs. the diver may not recognize the pain as DCS. Although bubbles are a good explanation for many decompression problems. tinnitus (buzzing or ringing in the ears). in extreme cases. that may warn of serious decompression sickness. ascent rate. It is now more common to categorize decompression sickness by area involved and severity of symptom. and deep in the joint or tissue. heavy work. It is not easy to detect bubbles in tissue. or rashy marbling on the torso. and central or peripheral nervous system involvement. numbness. “pins and needles. There is some discussion whether. and severe respiratory distress that can end in death. Type I DCS included skin itching or marbling. ASCENT RATE.2. or knee. in severe cases. This is done with a device called a Doppler ultrasonic bubble detector. and Type III. lower limbs are more often affected. usually in the elbow. A common symptom of DCS is pain. Doppler bubble detectors have shown that normal and otherwise benign dives may create a few circulating bubbles in some divers. however. partial deafness. smoking. Pain onset is usually gradual and. loss of sensation. Limb Bends. interferes with limb strength. IT CAN HAPPEN. AND MULTIPLE DIVES. the symptoms do not follow typical nerve distribution and are unstable in position and type during the early stages —different from the usual history of traumatic nerve injuries. brief. leaving these variables open to sometimes wild conjecture. Cerebral DCS is more common than previously thought and may account for a portion of symptoms formerly attributed to spinal-cord DCS. not sex specific. in the early stages. Type II DCS was considered to be respiratory symptoms. Central Nervous System (CNS) Decompression Sickness may cause muscular weakness. throbbing. they may not be the sole precursor of decompression problems. In divers. They may redissolve for passage through vessel walls then reform into bubbles. It is characterized by pain under the breastbone (sternum) on inhalation. Arterial gas embolism is covered in Section 3.’’ which resolved typically within ten minutes. Skin Bends come in two forms: harmless simple itchy skin after hyperbaric chamber exposure. dizziness. and. emotional. ALTHOUGH IT IS UNCOMMON FOR DCS TO OCCUR ON NO-DECOMPRESSION DIVES. shoulder. Major determinants of risk of DCS are depth. mild pain called “niggles. alcohol consumption. but dive profiles that cause a lot of bubbles also tend to cause a substantial number of DCS cases. or “dose” of nitrogen. Decompression sickness was formerly divided into Type I. death. Pain slowly intensifies. also called decompression illness (DCI). Environmental factors include chilling at the end of a dive. In fact. or “Chokes” occurs in about two percent of DCS cases. dehydration. factors. and. DCS pain is often described as dull. confusion. and multiple dives. hip. that birth control pills or menstruation might increase risk for women. Often. Strange neurological complaints or findings should not be dismissed as imaginary. Extreme fatigue was sometimes grouped into Type I. coughing that can become paroxysmal. just as the same dose of medication can vary in effect. paralysis. even psychotic symptoms. now dismissed. and lymphatic swelling.pass directly through blood vessel walls. Type III grouped DCS and arterial gas embolism together. disorientation. upper limbs are affected about three times as often as lower limbs. The same depth and time profile. WARNING THE MAJOR DETERMINANTS OF THE RISK OF DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS ARE DEPTH.3. and the use of heated suits. we still do not have definitive answers and additional research is needed. Cerebral Decompression Sickness is decompression sickness occurring in the brain. Pressure may have direct effects of its own on blood cells and other body areas (Bookspan 1995. Diving Physiology 3-27 . Pulmonary DCS. There was early speculation. there is no substantive evidence that gender plays a role in DCS (Bookspan 1995). time at depth. even decompression stress that does not result in known decompression sickness. Type II. Individual variation is also a factor. In caisson workers. only waves reflected from moving objects are detected. Given the dearth of comparative DCS studies. but they can be detected in circulating blood because they are moving. Other factors that may predispose to DCS include fatigue. the bubbles detected in the venous blood are “on their way out” and are not likely to be involved in decompression sickness.

3. • Administer 100 percent oxygen. and intravenous (IV) therapy is not available.3. 7. 2A. including possible rupture of the oval and round windows. and with specific equipment and rehearsed procedures in place for a system of surplus air. FIRST AID. Vestibular decompression sickness occurs more after deep helium-oxygen dives.3 Treatment Tables The primary treatment for decompression sickness is recompression. 6A. 5. along with Accident Treatment Flow Charts to be followed when selecting a treatment strategy. although it also has occurred in shallower air diving. treatment is conducted in accordance with the recompression procedures specified for that table. If complications occur during or after treatment. particularly after switching to air in the later stages of decompression. Inwater recompression can be hazardous and should not be attempted unless circumstances are extraordinary. the diver should only be given fluids by mouth if he is fully conscious. Several treatments may be needed. ascend to an altitude or equivalent pressure of no greater than 1. 6. If assistance is required. conduct an interview with both the diver and his buddy regarding the cause of the accident including the diver’s profile within the last 24 hours and any pertinent medical information. this diver should not be recompressed. Do not treat by returning the diver to the water. oxygen cylinders.N. CONTACT INFORMATION FOR LOCAL/REGIONAL EMERGENCY MEDICAL ASSISTANCE AND TREATMENT FACILITY. These are: 3-28 NOAA Diving Manual . The first step in any treatment involves diagnosing the condition properly. The treatment of choice for re-hydration is Ringers ® Solution administered by IV.Inner-Ear Decompression Sickness (vestibular decompression sickness. via tightfitting oronasal mask by demand/positive-pressure valve or non-rebreather mask at 15-lpm constant flow with the injured diver positioned supine or in recover position. Remember. added personnel. 8. Treatment Tables 1. NOTE Taking vital signs and/or interviewing the injured diver must not interrupt oxygen breathing. DCS treatment is less effective if hypovolemia is uncorrected. Secure the victim’s ABC (airway. It should be assumed that any diver with ear symptoms during descent is experiencing inner ear barotrauma. The Accident Treatment Flow Charts are diagnostic aids designed to ensure the selection of an appropriate table. and hydration Treatment: • If condition permits. First Aid. 3. ANY DELAY IN SYMPTOM RECOGNITION. If transporting by air. Inner ear DCS is also called “staggers” because of difficulty maintaining balance. extra thermal protection. breathing and circulation). Complete resolution of symptoms is not guaranteed. CPR should begin immediately.3. able to tolerate liquids. nutrition. AND TREATMENT CAN RESULT IN PERMANENT INJURY. perform quick neurological examination before recompression to ensure that case is pain only. nausea. If necessary. ringing in the ears. Mild hypovolemia may be more common in diving than generally realized. and 9. Once a treatment table has been chosen. put diver on oxygen. NOAA requires that an oxygen kit capable of ventilating an unconscious victim be on site during all diving operations. • Reassess diver regularly. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment tables include U. Recompression would again subject the diver to unequal middle-ear pressures. 3.000 feet.4. continually monitor the victim’s level of consciousness. Divers Alert Network (DAN) provides 24 hour emergency services to assist injured divers. Divers should have periodic audiometric examinations. collect the patient’s diving equipment and send it with the diver to the medical facility/recompression chamber. and initiate recompression on appropriate treatment table. and land support. hearing impairment can result from diving. take notes and record vital signs every fifteen minutes. Transport without delay to a hyperbaric treatment facility. check for neurological deficits. or vomiting. in isolated areas with no medical treatment options. the procedures shown in the Accident Treatment Flow Charts will help determine the appropriate course of action. Give 100 percent O 2 through a demand/positive-pressure type mask. Prevention: • Make safety stops (when conditions permit) • Ascend slowly (30 feet per minute) • Use longer surface intervals • Plan the dive well and have a backup plan • Maintain good physical fitness. Make the victim comfortable and place him in a supine position.S.4 Failures of Treatment Four major complications may affect the recompression treatment of a patient. pressurize chamber to 60 fsw. or labyrinthine decompression sickness) produces vertigo. AND DEVELOP AN EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE PLAN. WARNING WHEN PLANNING DIVES. for example. if possible. Even without inner ear DCS or barotrauma. Prompt recompression treatment increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome. a DAN medical professional (hyperbarically-trained physician or paramedic) can be reached at (919) 684-8111 (24 hrs). • Enter chamber.4. Also. 4. CHECK AVAILABILITY OF EMERGENCY OXYGEN/FIRST AID EQUIPMENT. These tables are shown in Appendix VI.

3. the foramen ovale remains partially or fully open (patent “PFO”). the surrounding bone tissue is not elastic with minimal margin for foreign body accumulation.4. and finally. joint surfaces of the long-bone ends can die. Helium. There seems to be a definite relationship between length of time exposed to depth and bone lesions. and most people with PFOs are not aware of the anomaly. Other factors may include cases of bends. disabling arthritis. Lesions often are bilateral. During the switch to air during decompression.7 Patent Foramen Ovale The foramen ovale is a flap-like opening in the septum wall which separates the right and left atria of the heart. for example. PFOs can be detected by means of a specialized echocardiogram. vomiting. it’s possible that the middle ear (and other structures) fill with heliox during the dive.4. be obtained early in the treatment process. It is therefore essential that the advice of experts in the field of hyperbaric medicine. resulting in vestibular symptoms. 3. diffuses faster than nitrogen.6 Aseptic Bone Necrosis (Dysbaric Osteonecrosis) Months to years after prolonged pressure exposure. The inner ear seems particularly susceptible. and its crippling effects. Bone necrosis is seldom seen in the elbows. causing the joint surface to break down. Bone necrosis seems to be a significant occupational hazard of professional divers. such as Divers Alert Network (DAN). cases of this type occur more frequently when a significant period of time has elapsed between the onset of symptoms and the initial recompression. In divers with a partially or fully open foramen ovale. it is equally important to note that they have not been standardized. and bone collects uranium 238 which might promote nucleation and subsequent gas bubble formation. Severe disability is the result. cases of inner-ear DCS have occurred after diving heliox. in other words. The only treatment known to have any degree of success is surgical repair or replacement of the joint. and others who spend great amounts of time compressing and decompressing at depth.• Worsening of the patient’s condition during treatment • Recurrence of the patient’s original symptoms or development of new symptoms during treatment • Recurrence of the patient’s original symptoms or development of new symptoms after treatment • Failure of symptoms of decompression sickness or gas embolism to resolve despite all efforts using standard treatment procedures Alternative treatment procedures have been developed and used successfully when standard treatment procedures have failed. Interestingly. resulting in the collapse of both femoral heads. 3. wrists. In normal activities at sea level. Problems can also occur after switching from breathing nitrogen-oxygen mix to breathing heliox while still under pressure. and lesions that occur in the shafts of the long bones rarely cause symptoms or disability. even with no change in ambient pressure. was first noted in 1888 in caisson workers (Kindwall 1972). it is termed isobaric counterdiffusion or isobaric counterexchange. PFO can cause severe problems for divers (Bove 1997). which would reduce gas load and risk of DCS. or ankles. Although it would be expected that helium in tissues moves into blood faster than nitrogen in breathing air moves into tissues. Upon birth. Bone necrosis.3. or dysbaric bone necrosis. Although it is important to know that alternative procedures are available.5 Counterdiffusion Divers breathing one gas mixture while surrounded by another can develop serious skin lesions. Lesions that occur in the head of the femur (long leg bone) or humerus (upper arm bone) weaken bone underlying the cartilage covering the joint. The word “necrosis” means death of cells in an area. and the total inner ear inert-gas partial pressure rises. platelets. then switching to air. fat. in an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of the general population. The use of an oxygen-nitrogen saturation therapy may be the only course of action when the situation involves a paralyzed diver already at depth whose condition is deteriorating. Total inert gas partial pressure in the body increases even though depth has not changed. nausea. a PFO does not induce any detrimental effects. caisson disease of bone. caisson workers. The hip and shoulder are most often affected. resulting in pain. and blood cells clump and obstruct blood flow. Bone ends seem to be vulnerable because supersaturation in fatty bone marrow may generate fat emboli that occlude vessels. However. This condition is called avascular necrosis of bone. because the fetus derives its oxygen and nutritional supply directly from its mother via the umbilical circulation. the foramen ovale structurally closes. when the neonate’s lungs become functional the foramen ovale functionally closes.3. but the middle ear and other structures remain full of heliox. This increased inert gas partial pressure can result in bubble formation. spasm around the joint. The foramen ovale is normally open in a developing fetus. Because two different gases can go in opposite directions in the body at the same ambient pressure. partial pressure of helium in blood falls quickly. performing a forceful valsalva maneuver may shift the Diving Physiology 3-29 .4. and blood vessels themselves narrow in reaction to bubble damage. Different gases have different diffusion rates. Within a year after birth. and the adequacy and promptness of recompression treatment. Aseptic bone necrosis seems to involve several mechanisms of damage: bubbles formed during decompression obstruct blood vessels in the bone ends. helium moves into tissues from blood faster than nitrogen moves out. aseptic bone necrosis. These special procedures may involve the use of saturation diving decompression schedules.3. and vestibular problems. although cases have occurred with minimal exposure. However. but this is an expensive and complex test which is not recommended for the general population.

confusion. In addition to securing and monitoring the victim’s airway. The victim should be kept lying down in a supine 3-30 NOAA Diving Manual . If a diver is out of shape. because of the potential dire consequences.2 First Aid for Hypothermia Treatment: The best help that fellow divers can render at the scene of the accident is: • • • • ABC (airway.4. there are risks associated with diving during pregnancy. Nevertheless. whose data relies on subjective reporting. and circulation) Handle the victim extremely gently Prevent further heat loss Activate the EMS system immediately 3. protecting the ABC is the utmost priority. underweight. it is also important to determine the victim’s temperature. WARNING SEVERE HYPOTHERMIA IS A LIFE-THREATENING CONDITION AND NEEDS TO BE TREATED BY TRAINED MEDICAL PERSONNEL. 3.pressure gradient so as to open the foramen ovale and allow bubbles to shunt. he is at risk of chilling. however.8 Pregnancy and Diving The consensus of diving medical experts agrees that women should not dive during pregnancy. it is unethical and illegal to conduct experiments which purposely induce decompression illness in pregnant women and their fetuses. temperature is the familiar 37C/98. they can block cartoid or coronary arteries. Shortterm memory and ability to think clearly may be seriously affected. increases fatigue and reduces dexterity and sense of touch. and is not hypothermia. and sheltered. fatigue. It used to be popular to refer to any downward variation of body temperature as hypothermia.3. The victim should be removed from the cold environment. and anecdotal diving surveys of pregnant female divers. True clinical hypothermia is reduction of core temperature (not skin temperature) below 35C/95°F. This is because animal studies may not accurately enough simulate human physiology. and circulation. often will not cause shivering. The body produces and loses heat several ways. and illness.1 Effects of Cold Chilling. Shivering further reduces coordination and may make it difficult to hold the mouthpiece. they may also induce DCS. such as multiple dives in warm water over days. Otherwise chilling results.4 HYPOTHERMIA/HYPERTHERMIA The body maintains internal temperature well. even if not life-threatening in itself. making it difficult to do useful work or to control diving equipment such as weight belts and buoyancy compensators. Gradual heat loss over a long period. leading to arterial gas embolism. Depending on where these shunted bubbles lodge. for example. Terminate a dive and begin rewarming if any of the following signs and symptoms are present: Signs and Symptoms: • Loss of dexterity and grip strength • Difficulty performing routine tasks. core temperature normally falls several degrees during sleep. Thermal protection by protective garments and the body’s heat-producing and heat-saving abilities are covered in the following Section 3. however. A diver may become helpless even before reaching moderate hypothermia (see Table 3. As in any medical emergency. from the existing experiences of humans and animal studies. A diver can become incapacitated by chilling without ever becoming hypothermic. or repeating tasks or procedures • Intermittent shivering. even though routine tasks can still be performed • Behavioral changes in a buddy that may indicate existing or approaching hypothermia 3. Many factors interact in susceptibility to chilling.8). is often not scientifically accurate. Narcosis seems to be a large contributor to hypothermia in compressed-air divers. Nitrogen narcosis reduces perception of cold and inhibits central neural structures involved in temperature regulation and heat production. ABC.4.4.6°F. close to ambient temperature. despite functioning in a wide range of cold environments. it is difficult to extract specific safety guidelines. or has been using drugs or alcohol. Water temperature and duration of exposure are obvious factors. Given the limited existing data. Treat the Victim Gently. oxygen consumption has increased greatly. If the bubbles accumulated during a dive bypass the lungs and are shunted directly into the diver’s systemic circulation. However.4. By the time shivering becomes uncontrollable. A victim of severe hypothermia must be carefully removed from the water in as horizontal a position as possible to reduce the possibility of hypotension (reduced blood pressure) and shock. the heat loss process is not a problem as long as heat is restored. breathing. 3. Additionally. the accumulated slow cooling can result in impaired performance and fatigue similar to that accompanying cold water chilling. Hypothermia is not the most common danger of cold. By itself. Susceptibility to chilling increases with dehydration. Skin temperature is usually much lower. hunger. and skin temperature drops dramatically with falling ambient temperature to protect the core against hypothermia. both for the mother and her fetus (Bove 1997). and variable. or core.3. breathing. PFOs have been implicated in a number of otherwise unexplained cases of decompression illness. a smoker. The body’s inner.

hypothermia victims should be stabilized in a hospital setting and carefully rewarmed under medical supervision. increased muscle tension. NOTE A wet suit does not stop heat loss. he can be given warm drinks that contain no alcohol or caffeine. To prevent further heat loss. hot drinks. but not in direct contact with the cold ground or metal objects. It is more likely that a diver will appear cold or complain of being cold. and can swallow. A chilled person can warm up by taking a warm bath or shower. chest. motor performance grossly impaired Shivering stopped. Other divers or the diving supervisor should remove this diver from the water and wind immediately. even a cigarette. 50% do not survive. Coast Guard. sensory function impairment. Afterdrop is believed to occur when cold blood in the periphery circulates to the central core as vessels in the skin dilate from the warm environment. neck. Well-intentioned “remedies” such as rigorous rubbing of the victim’s extremities. no response to pain Loss of consciousness Ventricular fibrillation (ineffective heartbeat). is conscious. particularly around the areas of highest heat loss — the head. irregular heart beats). divers rarely have to deal with severe hypothermia. Activate the EMS System. and should always be handled very gently.4. Diving in water temperature below 50ºF usually requires a dry suit. heat packs. speech impairment. in shipwrecks and survival history. The heart of a severely hypothermic person is extremely vulnerable.8 Signs and Symptoms of Dropping Core Temperature Core Temperature ºF C Below 98. temperature. and dry him off. it merely slows it. delusions. shivering impaired 93 34 91 33 the field. As long as the diver is not shivering uncontrollably. hot baths. Never attempt to rewarm a severely hypothermic diver in TABLE 3. Prevent Further Heat Loss. which includes information and equipment for contacting the local EMS and U. as signs and symptoms may overlap.S. armpits.6 37 Symptoms CHILLING Cold sensations. has a core temperature of 95ºF (35C) or more. possible drowning. Divers should always have a dive accident management plan.3 Thermal Protection A variety of diving suits are available. It is widely debated whether and by which method even trained medics should attempt field rewarming. muscles flaccid Death 88 86 84 80 79 31 30 29 27 26 Diving Physiology 3-31 . alcoholic beverages. mental confusion. uncontrollable shivering 97 36 95 35 MODERATE HYPOTHERMIA Voluntary tolerance limit in laboratory experiments. 3. therefore. rescuers should remove the victim’s wet clothes. WARNING DO NOT TAKE HOT BATHS OR SHOWERS AFTER COMPLETING DECOMPRESSION DIVES (OR DIVES NEAR DECOMPRESSION LIMITS). and afterdrop can induce ventricular fibrillation (uncontrolled. and should be wrapped in warm blankets or an exposure bag. which provides insulation by maintaining a dry air space between the suit and the diver’s skin. skin vasoconstriction. will be shivering and/or have slightly impaired speech and dexterity. HEAT MAY STIMULATE BUBBLE FORMATION. failure to recognize familiar people Muscles rigid. Ideally. Good indicators are the diver’s level of consciousness. and intensity of shivering (or lack of shivering). can be lethal. remove wet clothing. further increase in oxygen consumption. partial loss of consciousness. because rapid or aggressive rewarming may precipitate a phenomenon known as “afterdrop.position. and cover him with blankets. impairment of rational thought. decreased will to struggle Loss of memory. motor performance impairment Hallucinations. gross shivering in bouts. Often a lay rescuer cannot distinguish between the various categories of hypothermia. and groin. If unsure. Fortunately. 90 32 SEVERE HYPOTHERMIA Heart rhythm irregularities. a lay rescuer should refrain from aggressive rewarming.” in which the core temperature continues to drop even when rewarming has begun. from standard foam neoprene wet suits and dry suits to specially heated suits. increased oxygen consumption Sporadic shivering suppressed by voluntary movements.

do not attempt to swim except to a nearby craft. • Keep head and neck out of the water. The body’s defense is reduced by the thermal barrier of the clothing. embolization. is only one of many factors involved in thermal stress. Ship sinkings. stay well hydrated. if flooded. apathy. thereby decreasing convective heat transfer from core to skin and subsequent loss to the environment and shunt the warm blood to the vital organs. it definitely warrants attention. Button up. • When considering adequate thermal protection. affording valuable preparation time. 3. Vasoconstriction. • In extremely cold water. however. physical conditioning. a heat-preservation response. extra layers of clothing reduce the rate of body heat loss. because the drop in core temperature may not be rapid enough to activate the body’s thermoregulator defense mechanism. • Wear adequate thermal protection for the dive. orient to lifeboats. • For maximum cold water performance. incoordination. factor in the duration of decompression or safety stops. fellow survivor. and the environmental factors in that particular situation. • Be adequately nourished. wetting the face and head. Although warm water hypothermia is not as easily recognized as its cold water counterpart. long slow cooling can take place in water temperatures as warm as 82º– 91ºF (27–33C). may be highly efficient in women. • Wear several layers of clothing because the trapped air provides insulation. fatigue. 3-32 NOAA Diving Manual . especially during long dives and repetitive dives made without adequate rewarming between dives. not swim in very cold water. 15 to 30 minutes. floating objects. protected area. Although exercise increases heat transfer to the water. neck. Even in the water. the common recommendation is to remain still. etc. making the diver’s skin feel warm while his core is cooling. If ship abandonment is necessary. 3. especially when concurrent with any problems during the dive itself. specific procedures increase chance of survival. blood vessels in the shell narrow and restrict cutaneous blood flow. the suit loses its insulating value and can become a severe thermal hazard. shock. Similarly. aggravated by dehydration from breathing dry compressed gas and perspiring from prolonged underwater swimming or heavy underwater work. • If it is necessary to enter the water. Warm water hypothermia can cause confusion. Heavy exercise can generate enough heat to match heat loss in cold water. • After a dive.4. These mental and physical disabilities. Being prepared and practiced makes best use of this time: • Don a personal flotation device immediately. The physiological mechanisms of warm water hypothermia have been demonstrated in various medical studies. • Repetitive dives should not be made until diver is completely rewarmed. delayed reaction time. ability to generate heat. • Wear a hat. • Board a lifeboat or raft as soon as possible to avoid wetting insulating clothing and losing body heat. A phenomenon called “warm water hypothermia” can occur even in the tropics. Warm Water Hypothermia. There may be a discrepancy between the input of the receptors in the body’s shell and core. before manual dexterity is lost. Protective suits create an interesting complication. This complication. ability to constrict blood vessels in the limbs to shunt and save heat for the core. is only just being recognized as an important contributor to designing protective systems. and regular cold exposure are important contributors to cold tolerance and protection.5 Survival in Cold Water When diving. Body fat. long known. Perspiration from excessive or from predive overheating can also cause the diver’s dry suit underwear to lose insulation. occlusive dry suits. can result in panic. and avoid alcohol and caffeine. enter slowly to minimize likelihood of increasing breathing rate. Protect head. turn on signal lights immediately. swallowing water. get out of wet clothes. • Dry your hair.4. divers should swim in cold water on a regular basis to improve cold tolerance. • Move to a warm. level of training and conditioning. and death. groin. thus predisposing him to hypothermia. Divers also have to be wary of hypothermia in warm environments. usually require. Because it is more common to chill in very cold water even with exercise. There is evidence that vasoconstriction. The victim in this situation may not shiver. Each diver will respond to the cold water environment based on his own specific physiological makeup. Prevention of Hypothermia: • Check air and water temperature conditions before the dive. or floating object. divers may also suffer extremes of hot and cold thermal stress simultaneously during the same dive. During vasoconstriction. but they still are not clearly understood. and drowning. and the sides of the chest—these are areas of rapid heat loss. In warm water hypothermia. wear thermal protection appropriate for the water temperature. it is not always the case that the only outcome of swimming or other movement is net heat loss.4 Thermal Stress Irrespective of Ambient Temperature Hypothermia is not a problem only in frigid environments and can occur irrespective of ambient temperature. There have been documented cases of severe heat exhaustion in Arctic waters by commercial divers as a result of wearing thick. even in worst cases. • Drink warm liquids in between dives. at minimum. • Once in the water.However. and sudden anxiety.

. specialized equipment (i.• To conserve body heat. huddle together and maintain maximum body contact. It is usually experienced by individuals undergoing prolonged exposure to a hot environment to which they are not acclimatized. vomiting.4. At 106ºF (41C). the heat-loss center in the brain is stimulated.Concurrently. If the external environment is so hot or the body is so overheated that heat cannot be lost by conduction.4. arms around the side of chest. and are manifested by muscle cramps. and possibly transported to an emergency medical facility. neurologic. tenders on long duty. life-threatening medical emergency.e. Victims of heat stroke must be stabilized. resulting in vasodilation. gradually and regularly increase heat exposure. if water temperature is high.g. When hyperthermia has progressed to heat stroke. ice. Drink before thirsty. there is little or no difference between the skin and water temperature. the most serious and complex heat disorder. • Keep a positive attitude. the body’s thermoregulatory mechanism. or by individuals who have been moving about in extreme heat while dressed in heavy garments (i. As it does in response to cold stress. cooling down. Avoid drugs that increase susceptibility to overheating. and may require medical attention. As core temperature continues to rise beyond the homeostatic range (100ºF/37. and be transported to an emergency medical facility. or abdomen. which reacts to changes in the temperature of the circulating blood and to impulses from thermal receptors in the body’s shell. headache. around 86°F (29. which helps conserve sodium. or capacity to cool itself by sweating. endocrine. Through vasodilation. heat stroke can result in death due to circulatory collapse and damage to the central nervous system. If divers Diving Physiology 3-33 . is released from the adrenal cortex. If left untreated. Cramping usually occurs in the legs. Avoid alcohol. including heat acclimatization. suit-undersuit or SUS). However. ice vests. the body’s core temperature is regulated by the control center in the hypothalamus. to minimize time spent above the water enclosed in a dry suit or wet suit. oral fluids. altered mental state.7 Types of Heat Stress Heat syncope is the sudden loss of consciousness due to heat. Heat exhaustion is a serious problem in which hypovolemia (low blood volume) develops as a result of fluid loss. As the temperature spirals upward. and primarily by military and commercial dive operations that put divers in waters near the Equator. and stretching and massaging the muscles. and the diver can become warm. biochemical reactions are impaired. Will to live makes a difference. Heat cramps are a mild response to heat stress. the body’s natural heat loss processes become ineffective.. ataxia. and coma. heat has no gradient to transfer to the water. The skin becomes hot and dry.4C). Get into good physical condition — it will greatly extend heat tolerance. If unaccompanied by serious complications. For severe cramping. etc. Victims of severe heat exhaustion should be given IV fluids. This is called the Heat Escape Lessening Position (HELP). and proteins begin to degrade. Any exercise under such conditions can end in overheating. the hypothalamus is depressed. The prevention of hyperthermia in these specialized dive situations involves a number of strategies. nausea. hormonal adjustments begin. and general weakness. cooled aggressively (e. and radiation. a weak and rapid pulse. and exocrine functions. or in hazardous warm environments (nuclear reactor coolant pools) that require dry suits for protection.6 Overheating and Hyperthermia The body’s adaptation to overheating involves complex integrations between the circulatory. the sudorific (sweating) mechanism is activated. Even in cooler water. cooled aggressively. delirium. hold knees against chest. particularly on a hot day. Other suggestions to add to those for preventing hyperthermia are: • Dive buddy teams should suit up in sync. when exposed to ambient heat. Vasopressin or antidiuretic hormone is released by the pituitary gland and the hormone aldosterone. allowing heat to escape as the sweat evaporates. leading to convulsions. electrolyte replacement drinks or salt tablets may be indicated. the heat-promoting center in the hypothalamus is inhibited. given IV fluid replacement. low blood pressure. put in the shock position (legs slightly elevated). As sweating causes the body to lose fluid and electrolytes. Heat exhaustion often develops in unacclimatized people and is evidenced by profuse sweating. dizziness. drink water and juices liberally. heavy exercise can generate more heat than is lost. If others are nearby. Heat stroke. heat is dissipated from the shell through conduction. is a serious. Whenever core temperature rises above normal. hyperthermia under water has only recently been a subject of attention. has failed and core temperatures can soar to above 105ºF.e. The outside limit for human life is 108ºF (43C). the Persian Gulf. etc. 3. pre-cooling. To acclimate to the climatic conditions. and may occur several hours after exercise. 3.8C). heat cramps are best treated by rest. To reduce the risk of overheating. and other fluids which act as diuretics. Unlike chilling. arms. However. coffee. convection. At high ambient temperatures and during exercise. removed from the hot environment immediately. permanent brain damage may occur. most people go into convulsions. overheating rarely results from immersion in water. fully dressed scuba divers). with an ice bath). sweating provides the major physiologic defense against overheating.

1 Prescription Drugs The hyperbaric environment of diving may change how some drugs act in the body. producing up to ten percent carboxyhemoglobin (HbCO) (see Table 3. amphetamines. and effects or changes caused by diving. Drug interaction is an enormous topic. causing clumping that can block blood flow in the small vessels. • Ingest salt only if needed. The dose of carbon monoxide a smoker receives from smoking is toxic. Cigarette smoke is directly toxic to bone cells and the discs in the back. such as irreversibly enlarged and useless alveoli. Smoking directly affects the respiratory and cardiovascular systems. There are several commonly used drugs that may affect diver safety. smoking is addictive. These drugs include beta blockers. poisons deposit on the mucous lining of the airways and lungs. and the diver’s ability to thermoregulate. 3. Specific concerns include: • How the body absorbs.9). Under water. out of the lungs to the throat. psychomotor test results. coordination. on the surface. Before diving. It is speculated that increased clumping increases susceptibility to decompression sickness.cannot suit up together. and decongestants. 3. Individuals who tend to sweat copiously can use salt with meals. motion sickness remedies. and other environmental factors. and damage the cilia (thousands of microscopic hairs lining the airways). The level in non-smokers is generally 0. 3. dizziness. or integration of thought and action may lead to accidents. The clinician has the responsibility to explain the nature of treatment to the diver. water temperature. and limiting the oxygen-carrying ability of red blood cells. consult with your physician and ask the following questions: • What is the underlying condition/illness/disease? Is it relative or absolute contraindication to diving? • What is the half-life of the drug. and the diver has the responsibility to inform the physician that diving exposure is anticipated. Smoking affects the cardiovascular system. Smoking eventually produces structural weakness in the lung. including hydrogen cyanide. The accumulation of secretions can make equalizing ear and sinus pressure difficult.5. The mucus is usually swallowed or blown out the nose.5 DRUGS AND DIVING The use of prescription and over-the-counter medications while diving is a complex issue. Polluted-Water Diving). scar the lungs. antihistamines. Protective dress required for diving in contaminated water can lead to overheating and/or hypothermia in warm water situations (see Chapter 13. A heavy smoker takes approximately eight hours to eliminate 75 percent of the carbon monoxide inhaled. Carbon monoxide concentration inhaled from smoking one cigarette averages 400 to 500 ppm. increasing the smoker’s risk of bronchitis. and what other drugs they may be taking. In the respiratory system. the first buddy to get dressed should wait in the water and cool off. The HbCO level in the blood of divers who smoke is higher than it would be if they were exposed to 20 ppm carbon monoxide for 12 hours (maximum carbon monoxide level allowed in divers’ breathing air by NOAA). all the possible drugs. headache. it causes fatigue. increasing risk of back pain and disc degeneration. tranquilizers. and excretes the drug. and use a high SPF broadspectrum sunscreen before and after diving. neuromuscular strength. and carbon monoxide. like drowsiness from antihistamines. sedatives. as with the operation of machinery on land. performance. Additionally. Cilia normally move mucus. nitrogen oxides. • Possible physical effects of the type of breathing gas. metabolizes. as well as changes in neurologic reflexes. and electrocardiograms. • Wear a hat or visor. pollutants stay in the lungs. Smoking paralyzes the cilia. but should avoid salt tablets.2 Smoking Cigarette smoke contains poisons in gas and particulate form. it creates toxic effects throughout the body ranging from bone-cell destruction to cancerous changes. damaging heart tissue. Over time. any impairment of cognitive function. and the mental and physical requirements of the specific dive are additional variables. Inhaled nicotine and carbon monoxide increase stickiness of blood platelets. may be acceptable. and how long before or after use would it be prudent to avoid a high-pressure environment? • What are any side effects that might increase risk of diving? • Does the drug interfere with physical performance or exercise tolerance? 3-34 NOAA Diving Manual . hypertensive drugs.5 percent. existing medical and physical conditions. • Side effects.5. it is difficult to know all the variables. sensory discrimination. they irritate the air spaces. Individual variability. and disturbed sleep. increased density of the gases. side effects. leading to a lung disease called emphysema. and other respiratory infections. influenza. • Does the drug interfere with consciousness or cause alteration in decision-making ability? • Does the drug produce rebound phenomena? Divers and their physicians have an obligation to communicate with each other. which can cause excessive body salt levels. and the pollutants that accumulate in the mucus. accelerating atherosclerotic changes in blood vessels. irritability.

and it causes a dramatic drop in bloodglucose level. For heavy chronic smokers. swimming against strong currents or a number of factors which necessitate optimal aerobic capacity and increased supply of oxygen.95%). confusion. alcohol can contribute to dehydration. 3. Cocaine and the many other commonly abused central nervous system stimulants render a diver incapable of responding properly to life-threatening emergencies. leading to hypoglycemia which can cause weakness. which can damage tissues and cause disease. including 43 known carcinogens. alertness. even for a light smoker diving eight hours after the last cigarette (0. and fainting. These drugs are often combined with alcohol or marijuana.700 compounds. hand-eye coordination. carbon dioxide toxicity and decompression sickness (CO2 is believed to be a predisposing factor to DCS) cannot be ruled out. Depressed motor function is hazardous under water. According to the American Lung Association. balance.5. even a small amount can disrupt a wide variety of psychomotor skills. the oxygen . ppm 3.4 The HbCO level. the very basis of their use. and. There is yet another hazard associated with carbon monoxide. thus compounding problems. Because of its diuretic action.” For divers.5 Even a moderate smoker will have about six to eight percent of his hemoglobin tied up with carbon monoxide. Drugs take time to leave the system. one which pathologists do not yet fully understand.8 17. Epidemiologists have discovered that smoking is implicated not only in fatal lung disorders and coronary artery disease. Each cubic centimeter of tobacco smoke contains over five million particles. but is exposed to the smoke of others (passive smoke). thermal stress. and complex coordination. Alcohol. cervical cancer.9 32. which is another side effect of these drugs. is almost twice that of a non-smoker (0. Intuitively. and therefore readily combines with this vital component of the blood to produce carboxyhemoglobin. but also in strokes. which will make even non-stressful swimming and diving much more difficult.9 Carboxyhemoglobin as a Function of Smoking Median HbCO Level. “cigarette smoke in its gaseous and particulate phases contains 4. Anyone with a history of unconsciousness. For every molecule of carbon monoxide in the blood. particularly in the tropics. including chemicals which are so dangerous that they are on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of substances which are illegal to dispose of in the environment.50%). or anyone exhibiting confusion or other neurological signs. bladder cancer. Risk of cold injury and nitrogen narcosis increases. interference with temperature maintenance. meaning their hazards may persist even days after taking them. Because of these detriments. Alcohol can enhance exercise fatigue by increasing lactic acid production. sudden heart attack. Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to replenish the energy the body needs after diving. Alcohol by itself causes acutely diminished mental and physical faculties. an enzyme necessary for the transfer of oxygen from the blood to the inside of the cells. If so. alcohol consumption combined with breathing compressed gas may accelerate and multiply the effects of nitrogen narcosis. Diving under these circumstances can be even more hazardous.carrying capacity of blood can be reduced by as much as ten percent.1 5. Diving Physiology 3-35 . and heart illness. Other Important Facts About Alcohol. and is a serious risk factor during pregnancy. The carboxyhemoglobin level of a person who does not smoke. the respiratory deficits caused by smoking can be especially dangerous if the diving activities involve deep exposures which create breathing resistance. as blood glucose falls. weakness and confusion increase. irritability. must be treated with hyperbaric oxygen (Kindwall 1999). 6. hearing deficits. because alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system. Carbon monoxide has a 220 to 290-fold greater affinity for hemoglobin than oxygen does. even in a young person. reaction time. According to the American College of Sports Medicine. it seems likely that carboxyhemoglobin may not be able to carry as much CO2 as normal hemoglobin does. no matter how good they look upon admission. accuracy. and marijuana are commonly abused nervous system depressants. can rise to five percent after exposure.TABLE 3. alcohol is banned by various federations within the International Olympic Committee. Cocaine increases the likelihood of an oxygen toxicity seizure. it can trigger abnormal heart beats.9 27. the blood can carry one less molecule of oxygen. % Smoking Habits Light smoker (less than 1/2 pack/ day) Moderate smoker (more than 1/2 pack/day and less than 2 packs/day Heavy smoker (2 packs or more/ day) Expired CO. and therefore will have the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood reduced by that amount. Long term exposure to CO results in the CO binding to the cellular enzyme cytochrome oxidase. barbiturates.3 Illicit Drugs and Alcohol Psychoactive agents impair cognitive and motor performance.

resulting in slower off-gassing of nitrogen. and overall cardiovascular endurance caused by alcohol may become life-threatening detriments in an emergency diving situation. alcohol can increase sweating. who ideally should refrain from drinking alcohol 24 hours before and after a dive. a substance that causes greater loss of fluids than it contains. which concurrently promotes a faster rate of nitrogen elimination. struggling against a strong current.. therefore. about 80 percent of the adult victims had elevated blood alcohol levels (BAL). not alcoholic beverages. but essential minerals and electrolytes are lost through diuresis (urination). particularly bends with serious neurological deficits. circulation is diverted to the skin and heat escapes.e. approximately one-third of the reported diving accident victims had consumed alcohol within 12 hours before or after diving. Alcohol inhibits the brain hormone ADH (Antidiuretic Hormone). For divers. Lowry. For a diver who drinks and dives. and precipitates hyperthermia. and therefore may encourage bubble formation (Edmonds. but those fluids should be water and fruit juices. This makes alcohol a major risk factor in decompression sickness. In hot environments. having to swim a great distance on the surface. creating a vicious cycle whereby the more alcohol a person drinks. dehydration resulting from alcohol consumption poses a number of problems. a force which limits bubble growth. it was reported that alcohol can reduce the surface tension. Not only fluid. In a study on alcohol and bends. It’s important to drink a lot of fluids before and after diving. a state of elevated body core temperature. and a “hangover” feeling. Additionally. etc. power. Alcohol is a diuretic. According to DAN Accident Report data. which leads to further dehydration. local muscular. and Pennefather 1992). In cold climates. There are some divers. i. the vasodilation of capillaries caused by alcohol may allow nitrogen to escape too rapidly. When the brain becomes dehydrated. 3-36 NOAA Diving Manual .The decreased strength.e. Alcohol also predisposes a diver to thermal stress. Tests have also shown that some individuals still have a BAL above the legal limit for driving 24 hours after their last drink (Plueckhahn 1984). rescuing another diver. headache. which leads to further dehydration. there appears to be a relationship between an increased number of drinks and the severity of decompression illness. and Australia. According to DAN.S. the more he urinates. this impairment in thermoregulation may deteriorate into a life-threatening state of hypothermia. Alcohol is considered a factor in many drownings and diving accidents. As alcohol dilates the peripheral blood vessels. which can progress to heat stroke. In analysis of large numbers of drownings in the U.. One of the first signs of hypothermia is shivering. increasing chances of decompression sickness (DCS) even more. an unexpected problem (i. the individual experiences dizziness.) may intensify into a diving accident or fatality. Dehydration creates hypovolemia (thicker blood volume).

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......8 4..4-23 4................ 1 Altitude Correction Procedure .......1.............5.................................5........................1 Table Computation Prediction .2 4....4...4.........1 General............4.1 Remaining Well Within NoDecompression and Other Limits.........6..........................1 Diving at Altitude...........4...4-14 4..... 5 Depth Measurement at Altitude ......1 What Is Decompression? ..4..........4........6........2 Planning Single Dives...4.............1 4.3.4-26 4.4-29 4.............3 Taking Advantage of the Dive Table’s Inherent Margin of Safety on Multi-Level Dives ..4. 2 Accounting for Residual Nitrogen ........4 Omitted Decompression .....3.................3......1 Reverse Profile Dives.........S....3..4-24 4.....4...3....... 6 Determining Repetitive Group Designations Following Repetitive Dives .........3 Reliability of Tables .6.......4............... 2 Correction of Depth of Dive ................1..6 BUILDING ADDITIONAL SAFETY FACTORS INTO DIVE TABLE USAGE .4... 3 Correction for Decompression Stop Depths ......................4-29 4.................. 3 Finding Repetitive Group Designations Following Single...1................3........... NAVY DIVE TABLES TO MAKE REPETITIVE DIVES...7 4...............4-19 4.....4..S..7 NOAA NO-DECOMPRESSION DIVE CHARTS..........1........2 4...5.1 Single Versus Repetitive Dives........1...............4.....4................1.. 4 Need for Correction .3 Making Mandatory Decompression Stops.........4-14 4.5....................................4-24 4.... 9 Exceptions to Normal Repetitive Dive Planning .................4-24 4.2 Making Slow Ascents and Safety Stops .......2...4-26 4..............1.....4......S.......1........ 3 Use of Oxygen During Decompression...............4-30 4....................4-26 4..4-27 4...........4-29 4.....4.........6.....1.....2 Computing Decompression Tables ..2 Decompression Diving Considerations..5..1 4.............2 4.Air Diving and Decompression SECTION PAGE SECTION 4 PAGE 4... 1 Omitted Decompression 1........................1...4.........3....11 Repetitive Dives............ 4 Determining a Repetitive Group Designation Following a Surface Interval .......5.2.4-19 4............5...4.......2 USING THE U...............4................... NAVY DIVE TABLES TO MAKE STAGED DECOMPRESSION DIVES...4-26 4.....................4............1........4 Dive Planning Software ................5 Managing Additional Risk Factors That May Contribute to Decompression Sickness....6 4.4-23 4.................4-23 4.5.........5..........3....4-20 4.........4-12 4........... 2 Omitted Decompression 2..4.................4-23 4......................5....5 4.........4 USING THE U........3 USING THE U..3................3.....4-23 4.............. 6 Correction of Depth Gauges .................................3 4.......10 Dealing With Surface Intervals of Less Than Ten Minutes .....4-24 4......1...4-18 4.....5 DEALING WITH CHANGES IN ALTITUDE.................. 7 Why Repetitive Group Designations Are Important...........4-24 4................ 8 Determining the Minimum Allowable Surface Interval Between Dives....... 8 Altitude Sickness .............6......1...1....7.....5 4...4-27 4......10 Equilibration at Altitude.....1..........4-30 4.......4-24 4....... 7 Hypoxia During Altitude Diving ..4-23 4....4........... NAVY DIVE TABLES TO MAKE SINGLE DIVES ..... 9 Breathing Gases ...........4....4-29 4.......1... 1 Recording Repetitive Dive Data ....4-30 .4-18 4....1 4.1 4....6.............................4-19 4.............. 5 Determining Adjusted NoDecompression Limits for Repetitive Dives ....12 Ascent to Altitude After Diving/Flying After Diving ..............5........1 DECOMPRESSION TABLE DEVELOPMENT .4.... No-Decompression Dives ......5...9 4......0 GENERAL...........4-30 4.....5........................2 4..4 Following Recommendations Concerning Cold and Arduous Dives ........................3........4.............4-29 4.

S. A. the risk of a serious diving malady known as decompression sickness. As models improve. Haldane developed a hypothetical method for tracking gas in the body and showed how to develop decompression profiles or “tables. There is a wide variety of dive tables available. is reduced. Navy Dive Tables can be found in Appendix IV. With enough experience (data) it is possible to assign limits to various ascents from depth.A. it does afford a method of moving from yesterday’s dive experience to tomorrow’s new decompression tables.S.Air Diving and Decompression 4. 4. It is not what really happens in the body.0 GENERAL As explained in previous sections concerning the physics and physiology of diving. with “stops” at specified depths. the standard dive tables are those appearing in the U. the maximum permitted gas loading at that depth in that compartment.S.” At the outset. At today’s state of knowledge. By keeping the amount of nitrogen being absorbed and released within acceptable limits.S. and later modified by others. nor was it intended to be. including versions by the U. They can even help divers pre-plan a series of two or more dives— which is something that is generally beyond the capabilities of dive computers. 4 physiologist J. Navy. and many are offshoots of the Haldane method. usually determined from experience.2 Computing Decompression Tables Experience has shown that certain profiles. and ascent is adjusted to keep the loadings below the limits. Prof.S. scientific and research diving. body tissue continues to release excess nitrogen until the level of nitrogen dissolved in the tissue returns to normal. many others have followed.S. For military and selected scientific and commercial divers in the United States. Navy dive table usage will also make it easier to understand and use other dive tables as well. not how sophisticated the math may be. but. Even when divers use computers as their primary dive planning tool. but the judgment as to whether a model is right is how well it actually works. have or have not produced DCS. A working knowledge of U. when 4-1 . A well-developed computational method similar to Haldane’s was published by the late Swiss cardiologist. This was the first such model.1. Navy Diving Manual. A complete set of the U. the results of these calculations are decompression tables. The calculated gas loadings in each compartment are compared with the M-values. the only sound criterion for the preparation of useful decompression tables is empirical experience. Dive tables can provide an important backup in case of computer failure or operator error. it is important to have a working knowledge of dive tables. Ascent limits are normally considered in 10 fsw or 3 msw increments. to wait until the 4. The diver’s ascent is halted. With these tools. prediction capability will continue to improve. Bühlmann. table developers calculate suitably slow ascent rates for a variety of exposure profiles. To calculate a decompression table. and recreational training organizations. or DCS. This section of the NOAA Diving Manual is devoted to the proper use of U. is hypothetical. and are known as “M-values” (where M stands for “maximum”). The limits just mentioned are in terms of the gas loading that can be tolerated in each compartment at each depth during ascent. These tools include dive tables and dive computers. After surfacing. body tissues absorb additional nitrogen from the air breathed during dives and release this excess nitrogen during ascent.1. and it has been widely used by others.1 DECOMPRESSION TABLE DEVELOPMENT 4. Navy Dive Tables for relatively shallow. Divers have many tools at their disposal to help plan and make dives in which the risk of DCS remains within acceptable levels. other foreign governments. the developer needs a set of M-values. it is important to realize that this “model” proposed by Haldane.1 Table Computation Prediction The most common method used for predicting if a profile (of pressure and gas as functions of time) will cause DCS dates back to around the turn of the century. and presumably the hypothetical gas loadings produced by such profiles.

body tissues absorb additional nitrogen from the air breathed under pressure. and in one person at different times.2. As with dive computers. many of these programs allow oxygen exposure to be tracked and signals the user when limits are exceeded. During time spent on the surface between dives. Navy Dive Tables in this manual are considered reliable. It is up to the user to know the meaning of the oxygen calculations and the limits used. especially with regard to introducing extra conservatism into the computations. In the sense that “safe” means “an acceptable level of risk” the word may be applicable.A.1 shows. Bühlmann’s algorithms. Bühlmann that outline tested and accepted algorithms for computing tables. Why this distinction? Normally. depending on factors such as the depth and duration of the dive. and warmth increase gas uptake and elimination.4 Dive Planning Software In recent years there has been a remarkable development in the field of decompression technology. For decades it has been felt that only decompression specialists were qualified to produce decompression tables.S. The limits of a decompression procedure do not represent a hard line between developing or not developing decompression sickness symptoms. Navy Dive Tables. During a dive. producing proper decompression tables in a safe manner requires a substantial knowledge of decompression practice. it is preferable not to use the word “safe” to describe a decompression procedure.1 Single Versus Repetitive Dives Dives will be either single or repetitive dives: • A single dive is any dive made more than 12 hours following a previous dive. the amount of excess nitrogen present in tissue will decrease. no matter how much excess nitrogen 4-2 NOAA Diving Manual .S. There is a wide variation in the physical makeup of divers. As Figure 4. The different programs manage the algorithm in different ways. a given schedule is not “safe” or “unsafe. cold and dehydration reduce them. Bühlmann model uses the same equations for on-gassing.S.hypothetical gas loadings have “decayed” to below the limits for that depth. 4. It is not quite correct to consider this a ‘theory” of how the human body works. Rather. but calculates the ascent limits in a different way. For this reason.” The NOAA and U.1.” Accordingly. The J. The warning remains. Navy Dive Tables provide comes when you make what are known as single dives. This has been possible because of publications by Prof. it. exercise. There are also environmental effects.S. body tissue is saturated with nitrogen at a partial pressure equal to that of the nitrogen found in atmospheric air.2 USING THE U. however. and even when it is done correctly it will create some probability of symptoms of a decompression disorder. NAVY DIVE TABLES TO MAKE SINGLE DIVES The simplest and easiest application of the information the U. the development and marketing of commercially available computer programs for generating decompression tables.S. Haldane decompression model goes back nearly a century. Depending on where in the dive these conditions occur.” rather. but rather a fuzzy boundary of “acceptable risk. but too many people perceive that as meaning no risk at all. it is a computational tool that allows prediction of tomorrow’s dive from yesterday’s experience. at least fundamentally. and part of this variation is in susceptibility to decompression disorders. Satisfactory decompression tables can be referred to as being “reliable. some of this excess nitrogen will remain in body tissues for a period of time. on Prof. too. the diver then ascends to the next stop and the process is repeated. 4.S. The U.” With it. Several entrepreneurs have prepared and distributed computer programs that can be used to generate decompression tables. The NOAA Diving Program has used one or more of these computer programs to produce custom decompression tables required for special diving operations beyond the scope of the U. is firmly based on experience. 4. The user should have a firm idea of what to expect. and that all tables needed extensive testing before operational use. Because of the variations. after surfacing from a dive. • A repetitive dive is any dive made less than 12 hours after surfacing from a prior dive. These differences make it difficult to compare programs and to really understand the affects of the conservatism. DCS has a certain probability of occurring. As Figure 4. and should be able to recognize if things are not right.3 Reliability of Tables Virtually any exposure to pressure imposes an obligation for decompression. The A. it can be used to produce reliable decompression tables. 4. Navy and other decompression researchers have developed means of analyzing past dives using statistics. they may be either beneficial or detrimental to the decompression. The amount of excess nitrogen present will vary.2 shows. Be prepared for it psychologically and have a plan for dealing with it. therefore. one should always consider DCS as a possibility. Most programs available are based. but by using it with continuously updated experience.1. the probability of DCS can be predicted from a given profile by comparing it with a collection of past dives of the same general type. which is not the case. one form of which is called “maximum likelihood. Immersion. There are differences among individuals. decompression data is analyzed statistically.

the No-Decompression Limits are listed in the third column of Table 3 of the U. Navy No-Decompression Limits FIGURE 4. the body must account for the excess nitrogen remaining in tissue.6 39. • On repetitive dives. Navy No-Decompression Limits FIGURE 4. if a dive is made more than 12 hours after surfacing from a previous one.S. To use the No-Decompression Limits.S. it is assumed that any excess nitrogen remaining in body tissues following the dive is not significant.S.6 6.S. If.7 12. Navy Dive Tables.1 7. Navy Dive Tables’ NoDecompression Limits (NDLs).4 shows.2 21.7 48.4 30.2. a dive is made less than 12 hours after surfacing from a previous dive.8 54.8 51. the vast majority of this nitrogen will off-gas within 12 hours of surfacing.5 33. as Figure 4.0 4.6 9.PARTIAL PRESSURE OF NITROGEN SATURATED IN BODY TISSUES LEVEL OF N I T RO G E N D I S S O LV E D I N B O DY T I S S U E S RESIDUAL NITROGEN THAT MUST BE ACCOUNTED FOR Above Normal NDL RESIDUAL NITROGEN THAT RESIDUAL NITROGEN NEED NOT BEACCOUNTED FOR NOT ACCOUNTED FOR Atmospheres 0.4 27.S.1 10. there is the risk of exceeding the U.2 Nitrogen Off-Gases in Approximately 12 Hours is present following a dive.2 18. In summary: • On single no-decompression dives. as well as the term “dive schedule.79 Normal Normal BEGINNING OF DIVE END OF DIVE WITHIN 12 HOURS OF DIVING FIGURE 4.4 U. there is no need to worry about residual excess nitrogen.3 Risk of Exceeding U.” Air Diving and Decompression 4-3 . Navy’s No-Decompression Limits. 4. If this is not done.2 Planning Single Dives Planning single dives is comparatively easy.3 24. Navy table definitions for (Actual) Bottom Time and Depth.7 45. Simply make certain that the Actual Bottom Time (ABT) of the dive remains well within the U.S. As Figure 4. the diver must understand the U.2 15.8 59.9 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 B C D E F Group Designation Letter G H I J K L M N O LEVEL OF N I T RO G E N D I S S O LV E D I N B O DY T I S S U E S 60 120 35 70 25 50 20 35 15 30 5 15 5 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 Normal 210 300 110 160 75 100 55 75 45 60 25 40 25 30 15 25 15 20 10 15 10 15 10 12 7 10 5 10 5 10 5 8 5 7 5 5 5 5 5 797 225 350 452 135 180 240 325 390 917 100 125 160 195 245 315 361 540 75 95 120 145 170 205 250 310 50 60 80 100 120 140 160 190 40 50 70 80 100 110 130 150 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 25 30 40 50 55 60 20 30 35 40 45 50 20 25 30 35 40 15 20 25 30 15 20 22 25 13 15 20 12 15 10 10 * * * 595 344 405 220 270 310 170 200 TABLE 3 Note: See Appendix IV for Full Size Tables 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 N U M B E R O F H O U R S F O L L OW I N G D I V E FIGURE 4. on the other hand. What this means is that.6 42.1 Excess Nitrogen Following Dive Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) A 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3.5 36. it is assumed that the excess or residual nitrogen remaining in body tissues following previous dives is significant and must be accounted for to determine if decompression is required.3 shows.

2 21. locate the sampling station.4 30. the divers can make this single dive each day.4 27.2 15.S.3 24. The sampling station is at an equivalent saltwater depth of 93 feet. Therefore. the divers must round this number to the next greater depth and consider the maximum depth of their dive to be 100 fsw.8 51.5 msw 4-4 NOAA Diving Manual .1 10. • The term “dive schedule” refers to the combination of Actual Bottom Time and Depth. When using the U. It takes a maximum of 15 minutes for the divers to descend.0 4. Example 1: Here is an example that better illustrates how to find the applicable U. Navy Dive Tables allow for momentary variations in ascent rate of plus or minus 10 feet per minute.7 48.S. Depths on the U.8 54. Doing so increases the margin of safety. going to the next deeper depth or next greater time. uninterrupted ascent to the surface at a rate of no more than 30 feet per minute. while remaining well within the U. Navy Dive Tables: B OT TO M T I M E S TA R T S Depth B OT TO M TIME ENDS Time FIGURE 4. • As Figure 4.6 No-Decompression Limit (NDL) for 100 fsw/30.6 42.S.6 6. Their task is to replace the charcoal trap at a sampling station on the bottom of a lake once every day.1 7. Thus.S.8 59.9 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 PART OF TABLE 3 FIGURE 4.6 9. It is unusual for divers to reach a maximum depth that is a precise multiple of ten feet.S.7 12.5 33. throughout the project.1-meter increments.5 shows. as far as the U. Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3.6 39. Actual Bottom Time starts when the diver leaves the surface and ends when the diver begins a direct.S. Navy Dive Tables.S. (Note: The U.DIRECT ASCENT AT NO MORE THAN 30 FEET PER MINUTE Can they make this dive while remaining within the NoDecompression Limits? SAFETY S TO P S Ascent Time To find the answer: • Insofar as 93 fsw is a depth value that does not appear on Table 3.) • Depth is defined as the maximum depth reached during any point during the dive—even if divers remain at this depth only momentarily. Navy No-Decompression Limits for a particular dive: Dive team #1 is engaged in a water-sampling study. it appears that.5 36. Practice Problem 1: This is a practice problem that will illustrate how to find the applicable single-dive No-Decompression Limits on the U. the divers discover that the NDL for 100 fsw is 25 minutes. collect the old trap and replace it with a new one. round the actual depth to the next greater depth increment (making a 63-fsw dive a 70-fsw dive.6 shows. Navy Dive Tables. Navy Dive Tables are concerned). then begin their ascent. consistently round depth and time values in the more conservative direction.7 45. as they appear on the U. so long as they do not exceed a dive schedule of 100 fsw for 25 minutes.S. by consulting Table 3.5 Actual Bottom Time (ABT) In summary: • As Figure 4.2 18. Navy Dive Tables appear in tenfoot/3. Navy Dive Table NoDecompression Limits.

2 21.6 6.5 33. you will need dive table information that accounts for the residual nitrogen present in your body from previous dives.1 Recording Repetitive Dive Data Divers have at their disposal a number of worksheets. 4. does not exceed 53 fsw. Navy No-Decompression Limits? For exposures of 51 to 60 fsw.6 39 6 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 B C D E F Group Designation Letter G H I J K L M N O 4. U S Navy Dive Table 3 Unlimited/No-Decompression Limits and Repetitive Group Designation Table for Unlimited/No-Decompression Air Dives–1999 Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) A 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 3.0 4. FIGURE 4.7).7 48.S.S. you will find that this process is both easy to understand and easy to follow.Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3. how long do you have to search for and recover this device. bottom times. and a piece of paper. • The design is highly intuitive.S. NAVY DIVE TABLES TO MAKE REPETITIVE DIVES Using the U. ascents and surface intervals—one that divers have little difficulty understanding. you will need two things: First.8 51. without exceeding the U.0 4.3 USING THE U. hand-drawn diagram.1 10.3 24.7 12.4 27. logs.7 Answer to Practice Problem 1 Your dive team must recover a sampling device located in a bay whose depth.2 18.8. Navy Dive Tables to plan and make repetitive dives is a somewhat more complex process than for single dives. similar to the one appearing in Figure 4.5 36.2 15.8 59.9 Repetitive Group Designation Letters Air Diving and Decompression 4-5 . Nevertheless.6 6.7 12.6 9. At this depth.1 10.4 30. 60 120 35 70 25 50 20 35 15 30 5 15 5 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 210 300 110 160 75 100 55 75 45 60 25 40 25 30 15 25 15 20 10 15 10 15 10 12 7 10 5 10 5 10 5 8 797 225 350 452 135 180 240 325 390 917 100 125 160 195 245 315 361 540 75 95 120 145 170 205 250 310 50 60 80 100 120 140 160 190 40 50 70 80 100 110 130 150 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 25 30 40 50 55 60 20 30 35 40 45 50 20 25 30 35 40 15 20 25 30 15 20 22 25 13 15 20 12 15 10 * * * 595 344 405 220 270 310 170 200 FIGURE 4. and how that nitrogen will impact subsequent dives.6 42. including: • All that is needed to create such a diagram is a pen or pencil.1 7.3 24. and other tools for planning and recording repetitive dive data. you will need a simple.8 54.4 27.7 45.3. Among the simplest and most frequently used means of doing so is a simple. the U.5 36.6 9.2 15. This particular approach to recording repetitive dive data has several advantages.8 Diagram of Repetitive Dive Data Second. Navy No-Decompression limit is 60 minutes (see Figure 4.2 21.9 Start of Descent End of Ascent/Start Start of Descent/End of Surface Interval of Surface Interval Surface Interval Time (SIT) Surface Interval Time (SIT) PART OF TABLE 3 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 Schedule Used â Schedule Used â ____/____ ____/____ Actual Bottom Time (ABT) Actual Bottom Time (ABT) Actual Bottom Time (ABT) Actual Bottom Time (ABT) Ascent Time Start of Ascent Ascent Start of Ascent Time FIGURE 4. providing a visual representation of elements such as descents. at high tide.4 30.S.6 39.5 33. with practice. because this process involves more steps and more data than most divers can easily commit to memory.2 18.1 7. To do so. written means of recording information pertaining to the dives you plan and make.

9). more commonly.3.S.7 42 150 45.2 122 70 21.3 100 80 24. Repetitive Group Letters. to be applied to the repetitive dive. actually provides a combination of two tables.1 ** 40 12.8 32 190 59. in minutes. su r e fac A B C 0:10 1:39 1:10 2:38 1:58 3:24 2:29 3:57 2:59 4:25 3:21 4:49 3:44 5:12 4:03 5:40 4:20 5:48 4:36 6:02 4:50 6:18 5:04 6:32 5:17 6:44 5:28 6:56 C 159 62 39 25 21 17 15 13 11 10 10 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 6 0:10 3:20 1:40 4:49 2:39 5:48 3:25 6:34 3:58 7:05 4:26 7:35 4:50 7:59 5:13 8:21 5:41 8:50 5:49 8:58 6:03 9:12 6:19 9:28 6:33 9:43 6:45 9:54 6:57 10:05 B 88 39 25 17 13 11 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 D E F 0:10 0:45 0:41 1:15 1:07 1:41 1:30 2:02 1:48 2:20 2:04 2:38 2:20 2:53 2:35 3:08 2:48 3:22 3:00 3:33 3:11 3:45 F 0:10 0:54 0:46 1:29 1:16 1:59 1:42 2:23 2:03 2:44 2:21 3:04 2:39 3:21 2:54 3:36 3:09 3:52 3:23 4:04 3:34 4:17 3:46 4:29 E int al erv G H 0:10 0:36 0:34 0:59 0:55 1:19 1:12 1:35 1:26 1:49 1:40 2:05 1:54 2:18 2:05 2:29 2:18 2:42 R e ep titi ve u gro t pa the be n gin ing o e f th I J 0:10 0:31 0:29 0:49 0:46 1:04 1:00 1:18 1:12 1:30 1:25 1:43 1:37 1:55 K L 0:10 0:26 0:26 0:42 0:40 0:54 0:52 1:07 1:03 1:18 L M 0:10 0:24 0:24 0:36 0:35 0:48 N N O Z 0:10 0:22 0:10 0:23 0:23 0:34 O 0:10 0:25 0:25 0:39 0:37 0:51 0:49 1:02 M 0:10 0:28 0:27 0:45 0:43 0:59 0:55 1:11 1:08 1:24 1:19 1:36 0:10 0:33 0:32 0:54 0:50 1:11 1:05 1:25 1:19 1:39 1:31 1:53 1:44 2:04 1:56 2:17 0:10 0:40 0:37 1:06 1:00 1:29 1:20 1:47 1:36 2:03 1:50 2:19 2:06 2:34 2:19 2:47 2:30 2:59 2:43 3:10 0:10 1:09 0:55 1:57 1:30 2:28 2:00 2:58 2:24 3:20 2:45 3:43 3:05 4:02 3:22 4:19 3:37 4:35 3:53 4:49 4:05 5:03 4:18 5:16 4:30 5:27 D 279 88 54 37 29 24 20 18 16 14 13 12 11 10 9 9 8 8 8 Repetitive Z Dive Depth feet /meters 10 3. Use actual bottom times in the Standard Air Decompression Tables to compute decompression for such dives.10.5 57 120 36.e.2 169 60 18. * Dives following surface intervals of more than 12 hours are not repetitive dives. • Table 4.7 40 160 48. In the balance of this section. These “letters” represent the overall level of excess or residual nitrogen present in tissue following the end of any no-decompression dive.0 ** 20 6.8 35 180 54. The time given at the intersection is residual nitrogen time. Navy Dive Tables provides two tools: • Table 3.6 46 140 42. and how that nitrogen will impact subsequent dives. the longer the surface interval. Continue downward in this same column to the row which represents the depth of the repetitive dive. 4. shown in Figure 4. this type of diagram will be used to explain the process of planning and recording repetitive dives.TABLE 4 Locate the diver's repetitive group designation from his previous dive along the diagonal line above the table.8 37 170 51.. Read horizontally to the interval in which the diver's surface interval lies.2 Accounting for Residual Nitrogen To account for the residual nitrogen present in the body from previous dives. (see Figure 4.5 64 110 33. The lower table shows how divers must account for this excess nitrogen on subsequent dives.6 52 130 39.4 84 90 27. provides what are known as Repetitive Group Designations or. ** If no Residual Nitrogen Time is given. then the repetitive group does not change. the U. Higher letters (i. closer to the end of the alphabet) represent a greater overall level of residual nitrogen. a number of examples and problems are presented that show how to use these 4-6 NOAA Diving Manual .2 257 50 15.10 Residual Nitrogen Timetable for Repetitive Air Dives Throughout the balance of this section.4 73 100 30. Next read vertically downward to the new repetitive group designation.1 ** 30 9.9 31 K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION ** ** 229 138 99 79 64 54 47 43 38 35 31 29 27 26 24 22 21 ** 917 190 116 87 70 57 48 43 38 34 32 28 26 24 23 22 20 19 ** 399 159 101 76 61 50 43 38 34 31 28 25 23 22 20 19 18 17 ** 279 132 87 66 52 43 38 33 30 27 25 22 20 19 18 17 16 15 ** 208 109 73 56 44 37 32 29 26 24 21 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 0:10 12:00* 3:21 12:00* 4:50 12:00* 5:49 12:00* 6:35 12:00* 7:06 12:00* 7:36 12:00* 8:00 12:00* 8:22 12:00* 8:51 12:00* 8:59 12:00* 9:13 12:00 * 9:29 12:00* 9:44 12:00* 9:55 12:00* 10:06 12:00* A 39 18 12 7 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 ** ** ** 241 160 117 96 80 70 62 55 50 44 40 38 36 34 31 30 ** ** 469 213 142 107 87 73 64 57 51 46 40 38 35 33 31 29 28 ** ** 349 187 124 97 80 68 58 52 47 43 38 35 32 31 29 27 26 ** ** 279 161 111 88 72 61 53 48 42 39 35 32 30 28 26 25 24 ** 159 88 61 47 36 31 28 24 22 20 18 16 15 14 13 13 12 11 797 120 70 49 38 30 26 23 20 18 16 15 13 12 12 11 10 10 10 FIGURE 4. The upper table depicts how the level of residual nitrogen decreases.

• Table 3 shows that.7 45.5 33.3 Finding Repetitive Group Designations Following Single. Dive team #2 is conducting an aquatic-life census in a quiet. Practice Problem 2: Following is a problem to illustrate how to find the correct Letter Group following a no-decompression dive. which is 80 fsw. they use the next greater time.Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) A 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3. During the first dive of the day.6 42.8 54.11 reveals: • Because a depth of 74 fsw does not appear on Table 3. Navy’s NoDecompression Limits.1 7. dive team #3 descends to conduct an inspection of their research vessel’s running gear. • Because a value of 19 minutes does not appear in the 80-foot row.6 39.2 18. making the Actual Bottom Time for this dive 19 minutes.9 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 B C D E Group Designation F G H I J K L M N O 60 120 35 70 25 50 20 35 15 30 5 15 5 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 210 300 110 160 75 100 55 75 45 60 25 40 25 30 15 25 15 20 10 15 10 15 10 12 7 10 5 10 5 10 5 8 5 7 5 5 5 5 5 797 225 350 452 135 180 240 325 390 917 100 125 160 195 245 315 361 540 595 75 95 120 145 170 205 250 310 344 405 50 60 80 100 120 140 160 190 220 270 310 40 50 70 80 100 110 130 150 170 200 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 25 30 40 50 55 60 20 30 35 40 45 50 Start of 20 25 30 35 40 Surface 15 20 25 30 Interval 15 20 22 25 : Start 13 15 20 o f D iv e Letter Group 12 15 : at Start of 10 Surface Interval 10 * * Schedule Used 80'/:20 M a x im u m Depth TABLE 3 FIGURE 4.6 9. 4. they accidentally drop a dive light. What is their Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) at the end of this first dive? The answer appears in Figure 4. At 10:13 am.3. the divers use the next greater depth.2 15. The vessel is at anchor and the hard.0 4.7 48. for a single dive schedule of 80 fsw for 20 minutes.5 36. Figure 4. That is. When such a dive is the first in a series of repetitive dives. the diver must take an additional step.1 10. Air Diving and Decompression 4-7 .3 24. No-Decompression Dives If a repetitive dive takes place at least 12 hours following any previous exposures to elevated partial pressures of nitrogen.7 12. As outlined earlier in this chapter.8 51. At 9:54 am they begin their ascent (surfacing at 9:57 am).11 Calculation of a Repetitive Group Designation tables to plan and make no-decompression. the diver must determine the Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) at the end of the dive.6 6.4 30.11.2 21. sandy bottom is only 47-fsw deep. Example 2: Following is an example that illustrates how to find the applicable Letter Group at the end of a single dive.4 27. the Repetitive Group Designation at the beginning of the diver’s surface interval is E.8 59. all a diver must do is make sure that their Actual Bottom Time (ABT) for such dives does not exceed the U. and the water is relatively clear.S. saltwater estuary. they begin their descent at 9:35 am and reach a maximum depth of 74 fsw (23 msw). which is 20 minutes. treat the first dive in any series of repetitive dives as a single dive. and repetitive dives. During the course of the inspection.

without exceeding the U. Navy’s NoDecompression Limits.8 59.4 30.2 15. time spent SITting on the surface). This is also known as Surface Interval Time or SIT (literally. following this dive.7 12.7 45. • The next step is to enter Table 4 from the left. 4. use the upper portion of Table 4.0 4.S.12 reveals: • Because a depth of 47 fsw does not appear on Table 3. This directly affects how long the diver can remain under water on these repetitive dives. What is the Letter Group at the end of the dive? The answer appears in Figure 4.4 Determining a Repetitive Group Designation Following a Surface Interval The longer the diver remains on the surface following a dive.1 10. The best way to explain how to do so is with an example: 4-8 NOAA Diving Manual .9 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 B C D E F Group Designation G H I J K L M N O 60 120 35 70 25 50 20 35 15 30 5 15 5 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 210 300 110 160 75 100 55 75 45 60 25 40 25 30 15 25 15 20 10 15 10 15 10 12 7 10 5 10 5 10 5 8 5 7 5 5 5 5 5 797 225 350 452 135 180 240 325 390 917 100 125 160 195 245 315 361 540 75 95 120 145 170 205 250 310 50 60 80 100 120 140 160 190 40 50 70 80 100 110 130 150 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 25 30 40 50 55 60 20 30 35 40 45 50 20 25 30 35 40 15 20 25 30 15 20 22 25 13 15 20 12 15 : 10 10 * * 595 344 405 220 270 310 170 200 : Schedule Used 50Õ/:40 TABLE 3 FIGURE 4.6 39. which in this case is E. • Moving vertically up from the 40 minute time we find that the Repetitive Group Designation at the end of the dive (beginning of our surface interval) is F.12. three minutes (5:03). their Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) was E.4 27.6 9. they begin their ascent at 10:52 am and surface at 10:54 am. the divers do so.5 36. Example 3: To determine how much residual nitrogen is present following a Surface Interval (SI) between dives. the interval between 9:57 am and 3:00 pm is five hours.3 24.3. and determined that.12 Answer to Practice Problem 2 Insofar as recovering the light poses little risk.13.6 6. which is 40 minutes. What will their Letter Group be at the beginning of this next dive? The answer appears in Figure 4.13 reveals: • The first step in this process is to determine the length of the Surface Interval. the less residual nitrogen will be present in body tissues at the beginning of subsequent dives. Dive team #2 plans to make an afternoon dive to complete the aquatic-life census they started in the morning.5 33. The divers had surfaced from the day’s first dive at 9:57 am. • Because a value of 39 minutes does not appear in the 50-foot row.8 51.8 54. With the light recovered and the inspection complete. In this case. the divers use the next greater depth.1 7. Figure 4.6 42. They anticipate re-entering the water at approximately 3:00 pm. they use the next greater time.7 48. starting with the Repetitive Group Designation at the beginning of the Surface Interval.2 18.Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) A 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3. which is 50 fsw. Figure 4.2 21.

they arrive at the new Letter Group C. To do so.5 Determining Adjusted No-Decompression Limits for Repetitive Dives As discussed earlier in this section. 51 minutes falls. they arrive at the new Repetitive Group Designation of B.13 Answer to Example 3 Z K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION 0:10 12:00* 3:21 12:00* 4:50 12:00* 5:49 12:00* 6:35 12:00* 7:06 12:00* 7:36 12:00* 8:00 12:00* 8:22 12:00* 8:51 12:00* 8:59 12:00* 9:13 12:00 * 9:29 12:00* 9:44 12:00* 9:55 12:00* 10:06 12:00* A • From here. He. At that time. while dive team #3 was retrieving the dive light they accidentally dropped during their morning dive. they discovered an apparently abandoned anchor with no surface float. starting at the Repetitive Group Designation which. the divers continue across the table until they find a range of times into which the Surface Interval of five hours. Practice Problem 3: Following is a practice problem that illustrates of how to find the correct Letter Group following a Surface Interval: Continuing the scenario presented in Practice Problem 2. 4. This appears in the third column from the right. finding the allowable No-Decompression Limits for single dives is relatively easy. The divers surfaced from their morning dive at 10:54 am. This appears in the second column from the right. Since the anchor appeared to be in good condition. to further inspect the anchor and see if it could be of use to the vessel. What will their new Letter Group be at the end of this Surface Interval? The answer appears in Figure 4. • They continue across the table until they find a range of times into which the Surface Interval of two hours. • Moving down this column. However.14 reveals: • The Surface Interval Time that elapsed between 10:54 am and 1:45 pm is two hours.3. All a diver needs to do is consult the third column of Table 3. Figure 4.Start of Surface Interval End of Surface Interval A B 0:10 3:20 1:40 4:49 2:39 5:48 3:25 6:34 3:58 7:05 4:26 7:35 4:50 7:59 5:13 8:21 5:41 8:50 5:49 8:58 6:03 9:12 6:19 9:28 6:33 9:43 6:45 9:54 6:57 10:05 B : : Letter Group at Start of Surface Interval : Letter Group at End of Surface Interval in eg nin f go th es fa ur ce in ter l va C D 0:10 0:54 0:46 1:29 1:16 1:59 1:42 2:23 2:03 2:44 2:21 3:04 2:39 3:21 2:54 3:36 3:09 3:52 3:23 4:04 3:34 4:17 3:46 4:29 E 0:10 1:09 0:55 1:57 1:30 2:28 2:00 2:58 2:24 3:20 2:45 3:43 3:05 4:02 3:22 4:19 3:37 4:35 3:53 4:49 4:05 5:03 4:18 5:16 4:30 5:27 D E 0:10 0:45 0:41 1:15 1:07 1:41 1:30 2:02 1:48 2:20 2:04 2:38 2:20 2:53 2:35 3:08 2:48 3:22 3:00 3:33 3:11 3:45 F F 0:10 0:40 0:37 1:06 1:00 1:29 1:20 1:47 1:36 2:03 1:50 2:19 2:06 2:34 2:19 2:47 2:30 2:59 2:43 3:10 Schedule Used 80Õ/:20 Re pe t e itiv ou gr p t at he b G 0:10 0:36 0:34 0:59 0:55 1:19 1:12 1:35 1:26 1:49 1:40 2:05 1:54 2:18 2:05 2:29 2:18 2:42 H I 0:10 0:33 0:32 0:54 0:50 1:11 1:05 1:25 1:19 1:39 1:31 1:53 1:44 2:04 1:56 2:17 J K L M N O Z 0:10 0:22 0:10 0:23 0:23 0:34 O 0:10 0:24 0:24 0:36 0:35 0:48 N 0:10 0:25 0:25 0:39 0:37 0:51 0:49 1:02 M 0:10 0:26 0:26 0:42 0:40 0:54 0:52 1:07 1:03 1:18 L 0:10 0:28 0:27 0:45 0:43 0:59 0:55 1:11 1:08 1:24 1:19 1:36 0:10 0:31 0:29 0:49 0:46 1:04 1:00 1:18 1:12 1:30 1:25 1:43 1:37 1:55 0:10 1:39 1:10 2:38 1:58 3:24 2:29 3:57 2:59 4:25 3:21 4:49 3:44 5:12 4:03 5:40 4:20 5:48 4:36 6:02 4:50 6:18 5:04 6:32 5:17 6:44 5:28 6:56 C TABLE 4 FIGURE 4. • As before. because divers must account for residual nitrogen remaining in their bodies’ tissues from previous dives.14. their Repetitive Group Designation was F. three minutes falls. asked them to make a second dive. they reported it to their divemaster. They anticipate re-entering the water at 1:45 pm. the divers enter Table 4 from the left. determining the allowable No-Decompression Limit for repetitive dives is a somewhat more complex process. 51 minutes (2:51). Air Diving and Decompression 4-9 . • Moving down this column. in turn. in this case is F. divers must consult the lower portion of Table 4 to see how their Repetitive Group Designation equates to time spent under water at a particular depth.

Team #2 is now ready to enter the water to finish the balance of their aquatic-life census. 50 fsw. it is now 3:00 pm. Figure 4. they look for its intersection with the 60-foot row. They have already determined that their Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) at the start of this dive will be C.14 Answer to Practice Problem 3 then deduct this time from the single-dive No-Decompression Limit for this depth that appears on Table 3. After five hours and three minutes on the surface. Example 4: Following is an example of how to use Tables 3 and 4 (see Appendix V) to determine the adjusted No-Decompression Limit for a repetitive dive: Continuing with the example of the divers conducting the aquatic-life census. and do not exceed a maximum depth of 60 fsw.15 reveals: • The divers begin this process by consulting Table 4. • At this intersection point.S. they will remain within the U.S. but not exceed. dive team #3 is preparing to perform an inspection of an anchor they discovered during their morning dive. Moving down the “B” column.S. Navy Dive Tables’ single-dive No-Decompression Limit of 60 minutes found in Table 3.15. the amount of residual nitrogen present in the divers’ bodies at the start of their second dive is roughly equal to that which would be present in their systems 11 minutes into a single dive to a depth of 60 fsw. the divers’ Repetitive Group Designation is B. Practice Problem 4: The following practice problem will help illustrate how to determine adjusted No-Decompression Limits for repetitive dives: 4-10 NOAA Diving Manual . What this means is that. Navy Dive Tables’ No-Decompression Limit? underlies the U.4 msw) on their second dive. they find a Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) of 11 minutes. • To determine the adjusted No-Decompression Limit. they do not expect to exceed a maximum depth of 60 fsw (18. They finished their first dive of the day with a Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) of E. At the start of the dive. Thus.A : : : u es c rfa nt ei al erv B C D E 0:10 0:45 0:41 1:15 1:07 1:41 1:30 2:02 1:48 2:20 2:04 2:38 2:20 2:53 2:35 3:08 2:48 3:22 3:00 3:33 3:11 3:45 F 0:10 0:54 0:46 1:29 1:16 1:59 1:42 2:23 2:03 2:44 2:21 3:04 2:39 3:21 2:54 3:36 3:09 3:52 3:23 4:04 3:34 4:17 3:46 4:29 E 0:10 1:09 0:55 1:57 1:30 2:28 2:00 2:58 2:24 3:20 2:45 3:43 3:05 4:02 3:22 4:19 3:37 4:35 3:53 4:49 4:05 5:03 4:18 5:16 4:30 5:27 D 0:10 1:39 1:10 2:38 1:58 3:24 2:29 3:57 2:59 4:25 3:21 4:49 3:44 5:12 4:03 5:40 4:20 5:48 4:36 6:02 4:50 6:18 5:04 6:32 5:17 6:44 5:28 6:56 C Schedule Used 50Õ/:40 Re pe ve titi gro u pa e t th be gin g nin of th F G 0:10 0:40 0:37 1:06 1:00 1:29 1:20 1:47 1:36 2:03 1:50 2:19 2:06 2:34 2:19 2:47 2:30 2:59 2:43 3:10 H 0:10 0:33 0:32 0:54 0:50 1:11 1:05 1:25 1:19 1:39 1:31 1:53 1:44 2:04 1:56 2:17 I 0:10 0:31 0:29 0:49 0:46 1:04 1:00 1:18 1:12 1:30 1:25 1:43 1:37 1:55 J K L M N O Z 0:10 0:22 Z 0:10 0:23 0:23 0:34 O 0:10 0:24 0:24 0:36 0:35 0:48 N 0:10 0:25 0:25 0:39 0:37 0:51 0:49 1:02 M 0:10 0:26 0:26 0:42 0:40 0:54 0:52 1:07 1:03 1:18 L 0:10 0:28 0:27 0:45 0:43 0:59 0:55 1:11 1:08 1:24 1:19 1:36 0:10 0:36 0:34 0:59 0:55 1:19 1:12 1:35 1:26 1:49 1:40 2:05 1:54 2:18 2:05 2:29 2:18 2:42 0:10 3:20 1:40 4:49 2:39 5:48 3:25 6:34 3:58 7:05 4:26 7:35 4:50 7:59 5:13 8:21 5:41 8:50 5:49 8:58 6:03 9:12 6:19 9:28 6:33 9:43 6:45 9:54 6:57 10:05 B TABLE 4 7 TABLE K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION 0:10 12:00* 3:21 12:00* 4:50 12:00* 5:49 12:00* 6:35 12:00* 7:06 12:00* 7:36 12:00* 8:00 12:00* 8:22 12:00* 8:51 12:00* 8:59 12:00* 9:13 12:00 * 9:29 12:00* 9:44 12:00* 9:55 12:00* 10:06 12:00* A FIGURE 4. What is their adjusted No-Decompression Limit for this depth? The answer appears in Figure 4. Doing so results in a time of 49 minutes. if the divers keep the Actual Bottom Time (ABT) of their second dive within a limit of 49 minutes. according to the mathematical model that Further continuing the scenario in Practice Problem 3. their new Letter Group is B. They also know that the depth of the upcoming dive will approach. they deduct 11 minutes from the U. Navy Dive Tables. What is the maximum time they can spend on this dive without exceeding the U.S. Having completed the deepest portion of their survey in the morning. Navy Dive Tables’ No-Decompression Limit.

2 122 70 21.2 257 50 15.4 73 100 30.7 42 120 36.0 ** 20 6.2 122 40 12.1 40 12.8 5 190 59.6 6.5 20 140 42.7 310 60 18.8 51.3 50 100 30.6 39.TABLE 3 Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3.1 unlimited 30 9.6 52 100 30.8 5 190 59.2 60 90 27.7 42 150 45.16 Answer to Practice Problem 4 Air Diving and Decompression 4-11 .8 35 150 45.1 ** 20 6.0 ** 15 4.6 unlimited 20 6.2 257 595 30 9.8 32 160 48.5 64 110 33.15 Answer to Example 4 TABLE 3 TABLE 4 O N M L K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION ** ** ** ** ** 917 399 279 208 ** 229 190 159 132 109 138 116 101 87 73 99 87 76 66 56 79 70 61 52 44 64 57 50 43 37 54 48 43 38 32 47 43 38 33 29 43 38 34 30 26 38 34 31 27 24 35 32 28 25 21 31 28 25 22 19 29 26 23 20 18 27 24 22 19 17 26 23 20 18 16 24 22 19 17 15 22 20 18 16 14 21 19 17 15 13 Residual Nitrogen Times (Minutes) F E 797 120 70 49 38 30 26 23 20 18 16 15 13 12 12 11 10 10 10 D 279 88 54 37 29 24 20 18 16 14 13 12 11 10 9 9 8 8 8 C 159 62 39 25 21 17 15 13 11 10 10 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 6 B 88 39 25 17 13 11 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 A 39 18 12 7 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 Depth No-Decompression Repetitive Z Dive Depth (feet/meters) Limits (min) feet / meters 10 3.2 21.7 40 160 48.6 46 140 42.4 30.4 40 110 33.6 42.2 100 80 24.3 100 50 15.6 15 150 45.9 5 ** ** 241 160 117 96 80 70 62 55 50 44 40 38 36 34 31 30 ** ** 469 213 142 107 87 73 64 57 51 46 40 38 35 33 31 29 28 ** ** 349 187 124 97 80 68 58 52 47 43 38 35 32 31 29 27 26 ** ** 279 161 111 88 72 61 53 48 42 39 35 32 30 28 26 25 24 ** 159 88 61 47 36 31 28 24 22 20 18 16 15 14 13 13 12 11 FIGURE 4.6 52 130 39.7 45.4 84 60 18.0 4.3 100 80 24.3 24.4 27.8 54.8 35 180 54.8 37 170 51.9 TABLE 4 Repetitive Z Dive Depth feet / meters 10 3.1 10.6 10 160 48.8 5 180 54.2 15.1 25 7.2 18.1 7.9 31 O N M L K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION ** ** 229 138 99 79 64 54 47 43 38 35 31 29 27 26 24 22 21 ** 917 190 116 87 70 57 48 43 38 34 32 28 26 24 23 22 20 19 ** 399 159 101 76 61 50 43 38 34 31 28 25 23 22 20 19 18 17 ** 279 132 87 66 52 43 38 33 30 27 25 22 20 19 18 17 16 15 ** 208 109 73 56 44 37 32 29 26 24 21 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 F E 797 120 70 49 38 30 26 23 20 18 16 15 13 12 12 11 10 10 10 D 279 88 54 37 29 24 20 18 16 14 13 12 11 10 9 9 8 8 8 C 159 62 39 25 21 17 15 13 11 10 10 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 6 B 88 39 25 17 13 11 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 A 39 18 12 7 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 ** ** 241 160 117 96 80 70 62 55 50 44 40 38 36 34 31 30 ** ** 469 213 142 107 87 73 64 57 51 46 40 38 35 33 31 29 28 ** ** 349 187 124 97 80 68 58 52 47 43 38 35 32 31 29 27 26 ** ** 279 161 111 88 72 61 53 48 42 39 35 32 30 28 26 25 24 ** 159 88 61 47 36 31 28 24 22 20 18 16 15 14 13 13 12 11 Residual Nitrogen Times (Minutes) FIGURE 4.7 12.5 36.8 32 190 59.0 unlimited 10 3.6 9.4 84 90 27.1 ** 30 9.5 64 80 24.4 73 70 21.5 57 90 27.5 33.6 46 110 33.8 37 140 42.7 40 130 39.5 57 120 36.9 31 170 51.2 200 70 21.7 5 180 54.5 25 130 39.1 50 15.6 40 12.7 10 170 51.7 48.4 30 120 36.2 169 405 35 10.2 169 60 18.8 59.

Navy Dive Tables can provide a Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) following single dives. Navy Dive Tables The answer appears in Figure 4. In regard to determining adjusted No-Decompression Limits for repetitive dives. Figure 4. However. They reach a maximum depth of 51 fsw and begin their ascent 42 minutes after initiating their descent. they arrive at an adjusted NDL of 79 minutes. 4.18. • Because the diver cannot always be certain of the maximum depth that may be reached during any dive. as shown in Figure 4. it is a good idea to calculate and record the adjusted No-Decompression Limits for all possible maximum depths on a plastic slate and carry this during the dive.S. The top number is the RNT in minutes and the bottom number is the adjusted no-stop dive time in minutes. for a dive in which team #2 starts in Letter Group B.S. the process for doing so is slightly more complex.17.18) to determine the applicable Letter Group at the end of any repetitive dive: Continuing with an earlier example.S. What is their Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) at the end of this dive? The answer appears in Figure 4. • Deducting 21 minutes RNT from the U. Navy and similar dive tables simply provide this information.16 reveals: • The divers start by entering Table 4 in the column for Letter Group C. thus eliminating the requirement to subtract the RNT from the nodecompression limit to obtain the ABT. Navy Dive Tables’ single-dive No-Decompression Limit (NDL) of 100 minutes (Table 3).193 94 55 46 36 27 22 17 12 7 8 183 87 49 41 32 23 18 14 9 175 79 43 35 27 19 15 10 6 163 71 36 30 22 14 11 7 151 62 30 24 17 10 7 139 53 24 19 12 6 127 44 16 13 113 34 99 84 FIGURE 4. they can also do so following repetitive dives. Figure 4. most commercially produced versions of the U. they look for this column’s intersection with the row for a depth of 50 fsw. at 3:00 pm dive team #2 enters the water to finish the balance of their aquaticlife census. Having this information provided can greatly simplify the planning of repetitive dives. and 4-12 NOAA Diving Manual .S. Moving downward. Navy Dive Tables that contain this information.3. take along commercially produced plastic versions of the U. Example 5: Following is an example showing how to use Tables 3 and 4 (see Figure 4. as with determining adjusted no-decompression limits. there are two more points of which divers should be aware: • Insofar as the adjusted No-Decompression Limits for any combination of Repetitive Group Designation and depth never changes.17 Commercially Produced Version of the U.16. Their Letter Group at the beginning of this dive is B. This figure provides both the RNT and adjusted nostop dive times at each depth interval. As an alternative. This gives them a Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) of 21 minutes.18 reveals: • The divers know from the previous example that.6 Determining Repetitive Group Designations Following Repetitive Dives Just as the U.S.

2 18.5 57 120 36.0 4.2 15.8 35 180 54.3 100 80 24.7 48.9 31 O N M L K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION ** ** ** ** ** 917 399 279 208 ** 229 190 159 132 109 138 116 101 87 73 99 87 76 66 56 79 70 61 52 44 64 57 50 43 37 54 48 43 38 32 47 43 38 33 29 43 38 34 30 26 38 34 31 27 24 35 32 28 25 21 31 28 25 22 19 29 26 23 20 18 27 24 22 19 17 26 23 20 18 16 24 22 19 17 15 22 20 18 16 14 21 19 17 15 13 Residual Nitrogen Times (Minutes) F E 797 120 70 49 38 30 26 23 20 18 16 15 13 12 12 11 10 10 10 D 279 88 54 37 29 24 20 18 16 14 13 12 11 10 9 9 8 8 8 C 159 62 39 25 21 17 15 13 11 10 10 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 6 B 88 39 25 17 13 11 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 A 39 18 12 7 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 ** ** 241 160 117 96 80 70 62 55 50 44 40 38 36 34 31 30 ** ** 469 213 142 107 87 73 64 57 51 46 40 38 35 33 31 29 28 ** ** 349 187 124 97 80 68 58 52 47 43 38 35 32 31 29 27 26 ** ** 279 161 111 88 72 61 53 48 42 39 35 32 30 28 26 25 24 ** 159 88 61 47 36 31 28 24 22 20 18 16 15 14 13 13 12 11 : : Schedule Used 80Õ/:20 : : Schedule Used 60Õ/:55 TABLE 3 Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) A 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3.1 7.2 21.7 42 150 45.5 33.8 59.8 54.8 32 190 59.7 45.1 40 12.5 36.2 122 70 21.6 K L M N O 60 120 35 70 25 50 20 35 15 30 5 15 5 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 210 300 110 160 75 100 55 75 45 60 25 40 25 30 15 25 15 20 10 15 10 15 10 12 7 10 5 10 5 10 5 8 5 7 5 5 5 5 5 797 225 350 452 135 180 240 325 390 917 100 125 160 195 245 315 361 540 75 95 120 145 170 205 250 310 50 60 80 100 120 140 160 190 40 50 70 80 100 110 130 150 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 25 30 40 50 55 60 20 30 35 40 45 50 20 25 30 35 40 15 20 25 30 15 20 22 25 13 15 20 12 15 10 10 * * * 595 344 405 220 270 310 170 200 FIGURE 4.1 ** 30 9.TABLE 4 Repetitive Z Dive Depth feet /meters 10 3.8 51.6 9.7 40 160 48.2 169 60 18.4 73 100 30.7 12.4 27.8 37 170 51.4 30.9 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 B C D E Group Designation Letter F G H I J -5.3 24.6 39.6 46 140 42.2 257 50 15.18 Answer to Example 5 Air Diving and Decompression 4-13 .0 ** 20 6.4 84 90 27.6 42.1 10.5 64 110 33.6 52 130 39.6 6.

• The final step in this process is to find out the minimum amount of time needed to reach Letter Group C from Letter Group E. • By adding this RNT to the diver’s Actual Bottom Time (ABT) of 42 minutes. and to track their Repetitive Group status while doing so. and reach a maximum depth of between 41 and 50 fsw.reach a maximum depth of between 51 and 60 fsw. it is possible to make several such dives in succession—in which case. and they estimate they will need a maximum of 40 minutes to complete their survey. their Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) will be 11 minutes. 4. During the dive. • The divers treat this repetitive dive as though it were a single dive to 51 fsw for 53 minutes. Figure 4. for a specific amount of time. Theoretically. • Next. the divers will re-enter the water 4-14 NOAA Diving Manual . Practice Problem 5: The following practice problem will illustrate how to determine Repetitive Group Designations (Letter Groups) following repetitive dives: Again continuing the scenario presented in Practice Problems 2 through 4. • The third step is to consult Table 4 to find out what Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) will give the divers an RNT equal to or less than 20 minutes at 60 fsw. Example 6: Following is an example to illustrate why a diver might want to determine a minimum Surface Interval.19. their ESDT for the second dive must be equal to or less than 60 minutes. 12-hour period. wants to complete their aquatic-life census as quickly as possible.21. as Figure 4. they reach a maximum depth of 46 fsw. and how to do so.S. dive team #2 plans to go no deeper than 60 fsw. Nevertheless. they obtain an Equivalent Single Dive Time (ESDT) of 34 minutes. working divers seldom make more than two to three dives in a single. Consulting Table 4.S. from earlier examples.S. without exceeding it. determining the Repetitive Group Designation at the end of such dives might be of little value. the divers deduct the planned maximum Actual Bottom Time (ABT) for the maximum allowable Total Bottom Time (ESDT).7 Why Repetitive Group Designations Are Important If divers never made more than one repetitive dive in any 12-hour period. In this case. they obtain an Equivalent Single Dive Time (ESDT) of 53 minutes.21 reveals: • The first step in determining a minimum allowable surface interval between two dives is to establish what the maximum allowable Equivalent Single Dive Time (ESDT) will be for the second dive. The divers’ second dive will be to a depth of no more than 60 fsw.20 shows. subtracting the maximum ABT of 40 minutes from the maximum ESDT of 60 minutes reveals that the Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) at the beginning of the second dive must be equal to or less than 20 minutes.19 reveals: • The divers already know from the previous problem that. In this case. with a Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) of E.8 Determining the Minimum Allowable Surface Interval Between Dives There are times when a diver may need to use the U. When making a no-decompression dive. it is possible for divers to make an infinite number of repetitive dives. Thus. • Treating this repetitive dive as the equivalent of a single dive to 46 fsw for 34 minutes. the ESDT will be the same as the No-Decompression Limit for the second dive’s maximum possible depth. the divers consult Table 3 to obtain a Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) of F. 58 minutes to reach Group C. What is their Letter Group at the end of this dive? The answer appears in Figure 4.3. • Adding this RNT to their Actual Bottom Time (ABT) of 13 minutes. However. the ability to accurately plan and record these dives using the U. They have already determined that their Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) at the start of this repetitive dive will be C. determining the Letter Groups for the beginning and end of every dive becomes vital to divers who wish to use the U. it is clear that the divers must wait a minimum of one hour. Navy Dive Tables to help avoid decompression sickness (DCS). for a dive in which they start in Letter Group C. they use Table 3 to obtain a Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) of I. the U. Figure 4. to avoid being in the water when a forecast afternoon thunderstorm arrives. What is the soonest the divers can make their second dive? The answer appears in Figure 4. dive team #3 makes a mid-afternoon dive to inspect the anchor discovered during their morning dive. having surfaced in Group E. Using the procedures outlined earlier. In the real world.S. Navy Dive Tables to determine what is the minimum surface time needed before making a repetitive dive to a particular depth. Thus. In this instance.3. Navy Dive Tables’ No-Decompression Limit for 60 fsw is 60 minutes. Let’s say that dive team #2. their Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) will be 21 minutes. They surfaced from their first dive at 9:57 am. 4. Navy Dive Tables is important. the divers discover that Letter Group C will give them an RNT of 17 minutes—a value that most closely approaches the desired 20 minutes. The divers complete the inspection and begin their ascent 13 minutes after initiating descent.

2 15.2 21.7 45.2 257 50 15.6 39.8 54.6 46 140 42.1 10.8 59.8 37 170 51.5 36.6 6.7 12.4 30.5 57 120 36.6 9.8 32 190 59.19 Answer to Practice Problem 5 Air Diving and Decompression 4-15 .8 51.9 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 B C D E F Group Designation Letter G H I J K L M N O 60 120 35 70 25 50 20 35 15 30 5 15 5 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 210 300 110 160 75 100 55 75 45 60 25 40 25 30 15 25 15 20 10 15 10 15 10 12 7 10 5 10 5 10 5 8 5 7 5 5 5 5 5 797 225 350 452 135 180 240 325 390 917 100 125 160 195 245 315 361 540 75 95 120 145 170 205 250 310 50 60 80 100 120 140 160 190 40 50 70 80 100 110 130 150 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 25 30 40 50 55 60 20 30 35 40 45 50 20 25 30 35 40 15 20 25 30 15 20 22 25 13 15 20 12 15 10 10 * * * 595 344 220 170 405 270 310 200 FIGURE 4.7 40 160 48.9 31 O N M L K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION ** ** ** ** ** 917 399 279 208 ** 229 190 159 132 109 138 116 101 87 73 99 87 76 66 56 79 70 61 52 44 64 57 50 43 37 54 48 43 38 32 47 43 38 33 29 43 38 34 30 26 38 34 31 27 24 35 32 28 25 21 31 28 25 22 19 29 26 23 20 18 27 24 22 19 17 26 23 20 18 16 24 22 19 17 15 22 20 18 16 14 21 19 17 15 13 Residual Nitrogen Times (Minutes) F E 797 120 70 49 38 30 26 23 20 18 16 15 13 12 12 11 10 10 10 D 279 88 54 37 29 24 20 18 16 14 13 12 11 10 9 9 8 8 8 C 159 62 39 25 21 17 15 13 11 10 10 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 6 B 88 39 25 17 13 11 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 A 39 18 12 7 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 ** ** 241 160 117 96 80 70 62 55 50 44 40 38 36 34 31 30 ** ** 469 213 142 107 87 73 64 57 51 46 40 38 35 33 31 29 28 ** ** 349 187 124 97 80 68 58 52 47 43 38 35 32 31 29 27 26 ** ** 279 161 111 88 72 61 53 48 42 39 35 32 30 28 26 25 24 ** 159 88 61 47 36 31 28 24 22 20 18 16 15 14 13 13 12 11 : : : : Schedule Used 50Õ/:40 Schedule Used 50Õ/:40 TABLE 3 Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) A 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3.0 ** 20 6.1 7.4 73 100 30.4 27.3 100 80 24.0 4.7 48.2 18.5 33.8 35 180 54.5 64 110 33.3 24.1 40 12.4 84 90 27.2 122 70 21.6 42.6 52 130 39.TABLE 4 Repetitive Z Dive Depth feet /meters 10 3.1 ** 30 9.2 169 60 18.7 42 150 45.

8 54.7 42 150 45.0 4.2 21.: : Schedule Used 50Õ/:40 : : : : Schedule Used 50Õ/:40 Schedule Used 40Õ/:70 FIGURE 4.8 32 190 59.8 37 170 51.4 84 90 27.5 57 120 36.6 52 130 39.2 169 60 18.8 35 180 54.20 Record of Several Successive Repetitive Dives TABLE 4 PART OF TABLE 3 Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3.6 46 140 42.4 27.7 40 160 48.6 39.6 42.3 100 80 24.5 64 110 33.7 45.6 6.5 36.6 9.9 c rfa su the of g F nin gin be 0:10 G the 0:40 at 0:10 0:37 up H gro 0:36 1:06 ve 0:10 0:34 1:00 titi I pe 0:33 0:59 1:29 Re 0:10 0:32 0:55 1:20 J 0:31 0:54 1:19 1:47 0:10 0:29 0:50 1:12 1:36 K 0:28 0:49 1:11 1:35 2:03 0:10 0:27 0:46 1:05 1:26 1:50 0:26 0:45 1:04 1:25 1:49 2:19 0:26 0:43 1:00 1:19 1:40 2:06 0:42 0:59 1:18 1:39 2:05 2:34 0:40 0:55 1:12 1:31 1:54 2:19 0:54 1:11 1:30 1:53 2:18 2:47 0:52 1:08 1:25 1:44 2:05 2:30 1:07 1:24 1:43 2:04 2:29 2:59 1:03 1:19 1:37 1:56 2:18 2:43 1:18 1:36 1:55 2:17 2:42 3:10 rva nte ei l A B C D 0:10 0:54 0:46 1:29 1:16 1:59 1:42 2:23 2:03 2:44 2:21 3:04 2:39 3:21 2:54 3:36 3:09 3:52 3:23 4:04 3:34 4:17 3:46 4:29 E 0:10 1:09 0:55 1:57 1:30 2:28 2:00 2:58 2:24 3:20 2:45 3:43 3:05 4:02 3:22 4:19 3:37 4:35 3:53 4:49 4:05 5:03 4:18 5:16 4:30 5:27 D 279 88 54 37 29 24 20 18 16 14 13 12 11 10 9 9 8 8 8 0:10 1:39 1:10 2:38 1:58 3:24 2:29 3:57 2:59 4:25 3:21 4:49 3:44 5:12 4:03 5:40 4:20 5:48 4:36 6:02 4:50 6:18 5:04 6:32 5:17 6:44 5:28 6:56 C 159 62 39 25 21 17 15 13 11 10 10 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 6 0:10 3:20 1:40 4:49 2:39 5:48 3:25 6:34 3:58 7:05 4:26 7:35 4:50 7:59 5:13 8:21 5:41 8:50 5:49 8:58 6:03 9:12 6:19 9:28 6:33 9:43 6:45 9:54 6:57 10:05 B 88 39 25 17 13 11 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 0:10 12:00* 3:21 12:00* 4:50 12:00* 5:49 12:00* 6:35 12:00* 7:06 12:00* 7:36 12:00* 8:00 12:00* 8:22 12:00* 8:51 12:00* 8:59 12:00* 9:13 12:00 * 9:29 12:00* 9:44 12:00* 9:55 12:00* 10:06 12:00* A 39 18 12 7 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 E 0:10 0:45 0:41 1:15 1:07 1:41 1:30 2:02 1:48 2:20 2:04 2:38 2:20 2:53 2:35 3:08 2:48 3:22 3:00 3:33 3:11 3:45 F unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 L M N O Z 0:10 0:22 0:10 0:23 0:23 0:34 O 0:10 0:24 0:24 0:36 0:35 0:48 N 0:10 0:25 0:25 0:39 0:37 0:51 0:49 1:02 M Repetitive Z Dive Depth feet / meters 10 3.5 33.4 30.7 12.2 122 70 21.21 Answer to Example 6 4-16 NOAA Diving Manual .1 ** 40 12.8 59.1 ** 30 9.1 7.2 18.4 73 100 30.8 51.2 257 50 15.3 24.9 31 L K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION ** ** 229 138 99 79 64 54 47 43 38 35 31 29 27 26 24 22 21 ** 917 190 116 87 70 57 48 43 38 34 32 28 26 24 23 22 20 19 ** 399 159 101 76 61 50 43 38 34 31 28 25 23 22 20 19 18 17 ** 279 132 87 66 52 43 38 33 30 27 25 22 20 19 18 17 16 15 ** 208 109 73 56 44 37 32 29 26 24 21 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 ** ** ** 241 160 117 96 80 70 62 55 50 44 40 38 36 34 31 30 ** ** 469 213 142 107 87 73 64 57 51 46 40 38 35 33 31 29 28 ** ** 349 187 124 97 80 68 58 52 47 43 38 35 32 31 29 27 26 ** ** 279 161 111 88 72 61 53 48 42 39 35 32 30 28 26 25 24 ** 159 88 61 47 36 31 28 24 22 20 18 16 15 14 13 13 12 11 797 120 70 49 38 30 26 23 20 18 16 15 13 12 12 11 10 10 10 Residual Nitrogen Times (Minutes) : : Schedule Used 80Õ/:40 : Schedule Used 60Õ/:60 FIGURE 4.1 10.7 48.2 15.0 ** 20 6.

1 ** 30 9.9 L J K 0:10 0:26 0:26 0:42 0:40 0:54 0:52 1:07 1:03 1:18 L 0:10 0:28 0:27 0:45 0:43 0:59 0:55 1:11 1:08 1:24 1:19 1:36 unlimited unlimited unlimited 595 405 310 200 100 60 50 40 30 25 20 15 10 10 5 5 5 5 5 M N O Z 0:10 0:22 0:10 0:23 0:23 0:34 O 0:10 0:24 0:24 0:36 0:35 0:48 N 0:10 0:25 0:25 0:39 0:37 0:51 0:49 1:02 M 0:10 3:20 1:40 4:49 2:39 5:48 3:25 6:34 3:58 7:05 4:26 7:35 4:50 7:59 5:13 8:21 5:41 8:50 5:49 8:58 6:03 9:12 6:19 9:28 6:33 9:43 6:45 9:54 6:57 10:05 B 88 39 25 17 13 11 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 4 0:10 12:00* 3:21 12:00* 4:50 12:00* 5:49 12:00* 6:35 12:00* 7:06 12:00* 7:36 12:00* 8:00 12:00* 8:22 12:00* 8:51 12:00* 8:59 12:00* 9:13 12:00 * 9:29 12:00* 9:44 12:00* 9:55 12:00* 10:06 12:00* A 39 18 12 7 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 Repetitive Z Dive Depth feet /meters 10 3.7 40 160 48.3 24. • Finally.6 39.2 257 50 15.0 ** 20 6. they will need approximately one hour. • Next. a Repetitive Group Designation of C will give them a RNT of 21 minutes for a depth of 50 fsw—the closest they can get to the desired RNT of 25 minutes.8 59.1 10. how soon can they reenter the water? The answer appears in Figure 4.7 12.1 7. The divers know that the depth for this dive will not exceed 50 fsw.3 100 80 24. 15 minutes (:75) to inspect and prepare the anchor for recovery.4 30.8 51.5 64 110 33.2 21.2 169 60 18.4 27.6 42. the divemaster wants the divers to do so as soon as possible. the divemaster not only wants dive team #3 to inspect the anchor they discovered on their first dive of the day but. examine Table 4 to find the minimum amount of time the divers must wait to get from Letter Group F to Letter Group C. This turns out to be two Air Diving and Decompression 4-17 .9 31 K J I H G NEW GROUP DESIGNATION ** ** 229 138 99 79 64 54 47 43 38 35 31 29 27 26 24 22 21 ** 917 190 116 87 70 57 48 43 38 34 32 28 26 24 23 22 20 19 ** 399 159 101 76 61 50 43 38 34 31 28 25 23 22 20 19 18 17 ** 279 132 87 66 52 43 38 33 30 27 25 22 20 19 18 17 16 15 ** 208 109 73 56 44 37 32 29 26 24 21 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 ** ** ** 241 160 117 96 80 70 62 55 50 44 40 38 36 34 31 30 ** ** 469 213 142 107 87 73 64 57 51 46 40 38 35 33 31 29 28 ** ** 349 187 124 97 80 68 58 52 47 43 38 35 32 31 29 27 26 ** ** 279 161 111 88 72 61 53 48 42 39 35 32 30 28 26 25 24 ** 159 88 61 47 36 31 28 24 22 20 18 16 15 14 13 13 12 11 Residual Nitrogen Times (Minutes) : : Schedule Used 50Õ/:40 : Schedule Used 50Õ/:100 FIGURE 4.22 Answer to Practice Problem 6 at 11:55 am—and surface in time to avoid the forecast afternoon storm.8 35 180 54. They also know from previous experience that.2 18.8 54.0 4.22. without exceeding it.8 32 190 59.7 45.4 73 100 30.6 9.5 36.5 57 120 36.4 84 90 27.6 52 130 39.7 48.6 6. or 100 minutes.7 42 150 45.6 46 140 42. if the anchor is still useable. tie a line to it for retrieval.2 122 70 21. • Consulting Table 4. Doing so reveals that the Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) for the second dive must be equal to or less than 25 minutes. This is the No-Decompression Limit for this depth.1 ** 40 12. Practice Problem 6: Following is a practice problem to show how to determine a minimum allowable Surface Interval: In a variation on earlier problems.2 15. Further.5 33. so that the vessel can then proceed to its next assignment. With this in mind.8 37 170 51. if serviceable.22 reveals: • Start by determining the maximum allowable Equivalent Single Dive Time (ESDT) for a repetitive dive to 50 fsw.A TABLE 4 PART OF TABLE 3 Re pe tit g ive nin go f s the ur fa i ce nte l rva B C D 0:10 0:54 0:46 1:29 1:16 1:59 1:42 2:23 2:03 2:44 2:21 3:04 2:39 3:21 2:54 3:36 3:09 3:52 3:23 4:04 3:34 4:17 3:46 4:29 E 797 120 70 49 38 30 26 23 20 18 16 15 13 12 12 11 10 10 10 0:10 1:09 0:55 1:57 1:30 2:28 2:00 2:58 2:24 3:20 2:45 3:43 3:05 4:02 3:22 4:19 3:37 4:35 3:53 4:49 4:05 5:03 4:18 5:16 4:30 5:27 D 279 88 54 37 29 24 20 18 16 14 13 12 11 10 9 9 8 8 8 0:10 1:39 1:10 2:38 1:58 3:24 2:29 3:57 2:59 4:25 3:21 4:49 3:44 5:12 4:03 5:40 4:20 5:48 4:36 6:02 4:50 6:18 5:04 6:32 5:17 6:44 5:28 6:56 C 159 62 39 25 21 17 15 13 11 10 10 9 8 7 7 6 6 6 6 E 0:10 0:45 0:41 1:15 1:07 1:41 1:30 2:02 1:48 2:20 2:04 2:38 2:20 2:53 2:35 3:08 2:48 3:22 3:00 3:33 3:11 3:45 F rou pa t th e eb gin F 0:10 0:40 0:37 1:06 1:00 1:29 1:20 1:47 1:36 2:03 1:50 2:19 2:06 2:34 2:19 2:47 2:30 2:59 2:43 3:10 G 0:10 0:36 0:34 0:59 0:55 1:19 1:12 1:35 1:26 1:49 1:40 2:05 1:54 2:18 2:05 2:29 2:18 2:42 H 0:10 0:33 0:32 0:54 0:50 1:11 1:05 1:25 1:19 1:39 1:31 1:53 1:44 2:04 1:56 2:17 I 0:10 0:31 0:29 0:49 0:46 1:04 1:00 1:18 1:12 1:30 1:25 1:43 1:37 1:55 Depth No-Decompression (feet/meters) Limits (min) 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 3. Figure 4. deduct the planned maximum Actual Bottom Time (ABT) of 75 minutes from the maximum allowable ESDT.

diminish some additional bottom time. In general. • Before making the second dive. as it may increase the risk of decompression sickness (DCS). Notice that Table 4 does not provide information for Surface Intervals of less than ten minutes. Navy Dive Tables are designed primarily for dives to varying depths. 4. whenever feasible. with a relatively short Surface Interval between the two. putting them back in the water at 1:23 pm. Doing so does not increase the overall risk and actually adds a degree of conservatism to a second dive. • Consulting Table 4 (the lower portion).9 Exceptions to Normal Repetitive Dive Planning There is a notable exception to normal U.6. This appears to be contrary to logic. the Letter Group at the beginning of the second dive will still be F. experts recommend against this sort of “bounce” diving. however. It does. the amount of excess nitrogen remaining in tissues is roughly the same as it would be had the divers spent more time under water than they actually did. Two methods a diver can use to deal with these situation follow: • One approach is to simply ignore the apparent anomaly and continue to use the U. When making dives to comparable depths. the Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) for a depth of 60 fsw is 36 minutes. then off-gassing for an additional 30 minutes at the surface. An example of just such a situation appears in Figure 4. According to Table 4. This is because the U. Navy Dive Table planning procedures that may be applicable when making a repetitive dive to the same depth or deeper than the previous one. and consider the deepest depth reached during either portion of the dive to be the maximum depth for the combined dive.Schedule Used 60Õ/:30 ? FIGURE 4. What the tables appear to be saying is that.23 reveals: • Begin by making a 60-foot dive with an Actual Bottom Time (ABT) of 30 minutes. the divers spend a Surface Interval of 30 minutes off-gassing.S. Upon surfacing from this dive.23 Contrary to Logic hours. this exception is only applicable when making a repetitive dive to the same depth or deeper than the dive preceding it (see Section 4.1 on Reverse Profile Dives).3. in essence. 4. Navy Dive Tables exactly as designed. with short Surface Intervals between them. Navy Dive Tables consider dives that are less than ten minutes apart to be part of the same dive.10 Dealing With Surface Intervals of Less Than Ten Minutes A somewhat similar situation to the one just outlined arises when making dives that are less than ten minutes apart. 4-18 NOAA Diving Manual . When doing so the diver is.S. and use the shorter Actual Bottom Time (ABT) from the first dive in its place. this apparent anomaly appears. Bear in mind.3. however.S. after diving to 60 fsw for 30 minutes.3. 29 minutes.23. considering both dives to be the same as one long dive to the same depth. Table 3 indicates the Repetitive Group Designation (Letter Group) is F. Figure 4.S. How can this be? The answer is that the U. • The other approach is to ignore the Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) that Table 2 gives. with the Actual Bottom Times from each dive added together. Thus. with longer Surface Intervals in between them than this example depicts. Instead. add the Actual Bottom Times from both dives together.

although divers occasionally use the word as defined. The latter is an outcome of decompression when the pressure release is not done properly. In the context of a pressure vessel. is designed to allow a diver to ascend to the surface without incidence or symptoms. Decompression is something that occurs on the ascent from every dive. In any event. Dives requiring mandatory decompression stops: Entail Greater Risk: As will be discussed later in this section. In the context of a diver ascending. Note that most electronic dive timers record dive time from the time the diver enters the water to the time the diver surfaces without separating bottom time and ascent time. and breathing gas profile. Precautionary Decompression Stops: Commonly known as “safety stops. Time spent at a safety stop is not part of bottom time or SIT and does not affect the divers repetitive group letter designation following the dive. This is why the U. it is important to understand how to do so. Navy Dive Tables require an ascent rate of no more than 30 feet per minute. if the diver neglects to record when he actually left the bottom. or only require a specific ascent rate without stops.” these are stops made during ascent. However.4. NOAA “no-stop” dive procedures recommends the divers make a safety stop of three to five minutes in the range of 10 to 20 fsw. 4. decompression can include: Ascents: Because the ambient pressure decreases during ascent. the diver should note the time leaving the bottom for the ascent. mandatory decompression may entail remaining at a depth of 10 fsw for just a few minutes—or it may require that divers make stops at deeper depths as well. Mandatory Decompression Stops: These are stops that are required by the tables. the second is the act of doing it in a controlled way.S. Therefore. The dictionary definition of decompression is the reduction of pressure or release from compression.1 What Is Decompression? The word “decompression” has two different meanings in diving. ascents are a form of decompression. nominally 15 fsw. they also use the word “decompression” to mean the release or reduction of pressure in a controlled or planned way to avoid bubble formation and decompression sickness (DCS). Further. The process of ascending to the surface is decompression in both senses.S. This profile. The ascent time and safety stop time are not included in total bottom time. Navy Dive Tables do not require them. reducing the pressure is decompressing the vessel. Slow ascents generally result in the formation of fewer gas bubbles in body tissues than faster ascents do. It may involve stops. It might well be called depressurizing. Although the majority of dives conducted by NOAA divers do not involve staged decompression. then bottom time can be assumed to be the total dive time. and should therefore. even though the U. “Decompression” in this sense means the diver is required to follow a specific time. this meaning is more or less obvious.4. Navy decompression tables covering dives that exceed the No-Decompression Limits (NDLs) and which require divers to stop at predetermined depths during ascent to decompress. but also for the necessary decompression stops. the safety stop also requires the diver to have good buoyancy control in order to slow the ascent before surfacing and this is an all-around safety factor. for all no-stop dives conducted 60 fsw or deeper. every dive of any consequence involves a certain decompression obligation.2 Decompression Diving Considerations There is no such thing as a casual decompression dive. Have Substantially Greater Logistical Requirements: Making dives that require stage decompression entails considerably more in the way of equipment and support than no-decompression dives. 4. Among these requirements: • Participants must ensure that they not only have sufficient breathing gas for the dive itself. In contrast. NAVY DIVE TABLES TO MAKE STAGED DECOMPRESSION DIVES There are also U.divers should remain at the surface for as long as possible between dives. and this too is decompressing. experts generally believe that dives that exceed these limits—even when participants make the required decompression stops—pose a substantially greater risk of DCS.S. and that the time divers must remain at these stops be substantially longer. The first is the dictionary definition. plus all repetitive dives. The safety stop has been shown experimentally to reduce the level of ultrasonically-detected bubbles. So. it is in the best interest of the submerged diver to “decompress” in order to reach surface pressure. reduce the likelihood of decompression sickness.S. as a contingency procedure for unforeseen circumstances. 4.4 USING THE U. As far as diving is concerned. Air Diving and Decompression 4-19 . depth. which may be called a decompression table or decompression schedule. This will make the repetitive group letter designation more conservative. it requires additional planning and considerations above that required for no-decompression dives. Depending on the dive schedule. the ascent takes the diver to a place where the pressure is lower. Ascending without stops is still decompressing. However. The important point is that every ascent is a decompression. experts believe that remaining well within the No-Decompression Limits helps reduce the risk of decompression sickness (DCS).

• Repetitive Group: The Repetitive Group Designation at the end of the dive is letter group L. • Participants must be able to maintain specific depths during decompression. Armed with this information.24.3 Making Mandatory Decompression Stops As stated early. • Time at Stop Depth: Columns are provided for stop depths of up to 40 fsw. The total time of ascent should be nine minutes.• The breathing gas used during the dive is generally not the best possible media to breathe during decompression. the divers should keep their mouth as close to a depth of 10 fsw as possible. decompression bars or platforms. there are occasions where decompression dives are done. This may necessitate having a separate gas supply (usually oxygen or an oxygen-rich gas mixture) for decompression.25 or Appendix IV). This may involve the use of ascent lines. Among the columns of data you will see: • Time to First Stop: Based on an ascent rate of 30 feet per minute (fpm). unforeseen circumstances may force a diver into a decompression profile. The RGD after surfacing will be group L. lift or marking bags. is 1:40 minutes. including appropriate breathing gas cylinders. despite large waves passing over head and lack of an ascent line to hang on to. They discover—much to their horror—that they misread Table 4 and that their Total Bottom Time (TBT) for this dive is now the equivalent of having made a single dive to 60 fsw for 80 minutes. It is worth noting that. making additional TOTAL DIVE TIME TO TIME AT STOP DEPTH ASCENT REPETITIVE DEPTH TIME FIRST STOP 40 30 20 10 TIME GROUP 60 70 80 100 120 140 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 2 7 14 26 39 4:00 9:00 16:00 28:00 41:00 K L M N O FIGURE 4.S. wait there for seven minutes. • They may be struggling to maintain a constant depth. for those there are specific procedures. In this instance. • Each participant must wear appropriate gear and thermal protection for the dive. Decompression Dives Decompression diving is rarely conducted by NOAA scuba divers. Now what do they do? The answer appears in Figure 4. They base their dive plan on the assumption that their Actual Bottom Time (ABT) and Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) together will not exceed the U. Example 7: Here is an example of just such a situation. wondering when they are finally able to surface. all divers should know how to use the U. even though Table 5 provides end-of-dive Repetitive Group information. the tables require a 7-minute stop at 10 fsw. Just prior to ascending.S. Time to the first stop should be one minute and 40 seconds.4. To find this information. hoping that their dwindling gas supply is sufficient to complete the necessary stops. the ascent time from 60 ft. Consider the plight of divers who find themselves having to make mandatory decompression stops in open-ocean conditions with no prior planning or preparation: • They may be constantly monitoring their pressure gauges. the divers will need to consult the U. Dive team #3 plans a repetitive dive to 60 fsw. etc. • They may also find themselves drifting in a current. Navy Standard Air Decompression Table 5 (see Figure 4. During their stop. Navy Standard Air Decompression Tables. • A decompression dive team must be composed of no fewer than three divers (two divers and a fully suited standby diver on the surface). the divers decide to re-check their calculations. then surface. if one is not on-site. • Total Ascent Time: The total of stop time plus ascent time is 9:00 minutes. NOAA diving activities that exceed the limits of nostop dives are permitted only under the following conditions: • A detailed dive plan has been approved by the NOAA Diving Safety Board. • The project leader must demonstrate that the divemaster and all members of the diving team have a thorough knowledge of decompression and repetitive dive principles and practices. • A recompression chamber should be within two hours travel time from the dive site or diving vessel. This is well in excess of the 60minute NDL upon which they based their dive plan. to 10 ft. and have on hand a decompression schedule for the maximum proposed depth of dive. Therefore. 4. However. depth gauge. the divers now know that they should ascend at a rate of 30 fpm to a depth of 10 fsw. a timing device. look up the values appearing for an 80-minute dive to a depth of between 51 and 60 fsw. Navy No-Decompression Limit (NDL) for 60 fsw which is 60 minutes. as mandated by the tables.24 Answer to Example 7 4-20 NOAA Diving Manual . and whether their support vessel will be able to find them. Using this table.S. however.

S.3 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 2:00 2:00 2:00 2:00 2:00 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 2 4 6 8 9 13 19 * See No-Decompression Table 3 for Repetitive Groups ** Repetitive Dives may not follow Exceptional Exposure Dives FIGURE 4. Navy Dive Table 5ÑDepth 40 to 70 fsw Air Diving and Decompression 4-21 .Table 5.0 10 3.0 0 2 7 11 15 19 Exceptional Exposure 1:00 1:00 1:00 23 41 69 0 3 5 10 21 29 35 40 47 24:20 42:20 70:20 ** ** ** * L M M N O O Z Z Total decompression time (min:sec) 1:20 3:20 8:20 12:20 16:20 20:20 Repetitive group 40 12.1 20 6.1 30 9.2 100 110 120 140 160 180 200 220 240 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:40 4:40 6:40 11:40 22:40 30:40 36:40 41:40 48:40 60 70 80 100 120 140 160 180 200 240 360 480 720 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:20 1:20 1 Exceptional Exposure 2 20 44 78 0 2 7 14 26 39 48 56 69 79 119 148 187 0 8 14 18 23 33 41 47 52 56 61 72 79 2:00 4:00 9:00 16:00 28:00 41:00 50:00 58:00 72:00 83:00 141:00 194:00 267:00 2:20 10:20 16:20 20:20 25:20 35:20 45:20 53:20 60:20 66:20 72:20 87:20 100:20 * K L M N O Z Z Z ** ** ** ** * K L M N N O O O Z Z Z Z 70 21.2 60 18. Navy Standard Air Decompression Table – 1999 Depth feet/meters Bottom time (min) 200 210 230 250 270 300 360 480 720 Time first stop (min:sec) Decompression stops (feet/meters) 50 15.2 40 12.1 1:00 1:00 1:00 1:00 1:00 * N N O O Z 50 15. U.25 U.S.

0 0 10 17 23 31 39 46 53 56 63 69 77 Total decompression time (min:sec) 2:40 12:40 19:40 25:40 35:40 48:40 59:40 68:40 75:40 84:40 97:40 111:40 Repetitive group 80 24.Table 5.S.S.1 30 9. Navy Standard Air Decompression Table – 1999 (Continued) Depth feet/meters Bottom time (min) 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 Time first stop (min:sec) Decompression stops (feet/meters) 50 15.25 U.3 2:20 2:20 2:20 2:00 2:00 2:00 2:00 2:00 2:00 2:00 2:00 2 7 11 13 17 19 26 32 Exceptional Exposure 35 6 52 29 90 59 107 17 108 142 * K L M N N O O Z Z Z Z 180 240 360 480 720 2:00 1:40 1:40 1:40 1:20 85 120 160 187 187 122:40 180:40 281:40 355:40 456:40 ** ** ** ** ** 90 28.1 20 6. U.7 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 25 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 2:40 2:40 2:40 2:20 2:20 2:20 2:20 2:20 2:20 2:00 5 7 13 18 21 24 32 36 0 7 18 25 30 40 48 54 61 68 74 0 3 15 24 28 39 48 57 66 72 78 3:00 10:00 21:00 28:00 40:00 56:00 69:00 78:00 88:00 103:00 118:00 3:20 6:20 18:20 29:20 40:20 59:20 74:20 86:20 99:20 119:20 134:20 * J L M N N O Z Z Z Z 100 30.2 40 12. Navy Dive Table 5ÑDepth 80 to 100 fsw 4-22 NOAA Diving Manual .4 3:00 3:00 2:40 2:40 2:40 2:40 2:20 2:20 2:20 2:20 3 7 10 12 2 9 17 23 23 23 34 41 * I K L N O O Z Z Z Z 180 240 360 480 720 2:00 2:00 1:40 1:40 1:40 2 21 55 Exceptional Exposure 1 29 53 14 42 84 42 73 111 61 91 142 106 122 142 118 142 187 187 187 204:20 285:20 418:20 505:20 615:20 ** ** ** ** ** * See No-Decompression Table 3 for Repetitive Groups ** Repetitive Dives may not follow Exceptional Exposure Dives FIGURE 4.0 10 3.

Navy Dive Tables make the following assumptions regarding altitude: • The altitude at the surface of the water in which the dive is made is no more than 1. observed. 4. bodily injury. loss of air supply.5 DEALING WITH CHANGES IN ALTITUDE The U. • If symptoms occur during or after breathing oxygen for 60 minutes.S. Instead.3 Use of Oxygen During Decompression Oxygen can significantly enhance decompression.4 Omitted Decompression In situations such as an uncontrolled ascent. The surface acts as the reference point for tables. above sea level.1 Diving at Altitude When a dive is performed in a body of water at an altitude well above sea level.4. (305 m) above sea level.4. in instances in which a diver accidentally exceeds the NoDecompression Limits. By breathing 100% oxygen. • If he cannot be returned to the water within five minutes after surfacing. the diver should take the following precautions: • Stop at 10 to 15 fsw for a minimum of 15 minutes or until he reaches 300 psi in their cylinder.dives following an exposure that requires mandatory stage decompression is not advised. he should notify the divemaster of omitted decompression.S.000 ft. 4. and some of these must be considered in planning the decompression. NOTE If a diver is asymptomatic but unable to return to the water to complete omitted decompression. If a diver has omitted the required decompression and shows any symptom of embolism or decompression sickness after surfacing. • If symptoms occur during or after breathing oxygen for 30 minutes. he should be placed on oxygen for a minimum of 60 minutes. he should take the following precautions: • Proceed to the surface at a normal rate of ascent. high oxygen content mixtures can also be used to shorten decompression from the 30 fsw stop and deeper. and restricted from diving for 12 hours. Decompression Tables to determine required in-water decompression time. and a recompression chamber is available within one hour travel. several things are different. a diver may be required to surface prematurely.4. 4. or travel to such an altitude following a dive.000 ft. there are additional factors to take into consideration. the diver should consult the U. Mixes rich in oxygen have proven to substantially improve decompression outcome when used as a supplemental decompression gas from both air and nitrox dives.5. thus increasing inert gas elimination from the body.4. For example.000 ft. • If asymptomatic after breathing oxygen for 60 minutes. without taking the required decompression. Navy Standard Air Decompression Tables to see if the amount of time spent at 10–15 feet met or exceeded the amount of decompression time required by the Tables. Treatment in a recompression chamber is essential for these omitted decompression accidents.4. 4. he should be observed for a minimum of 12 hours for signs and symptoms of DCS and restricted from diving during this observational period.N. • Once on the surface. he should be transported (on oxygen) to the nearest medical facility for treatment. Experts believe that doing so might pose a substantially greater risk of decompression sickness than such dives normally would. or he has insufficient gas to perform in-water decompression. Decompression requirements are dictated by the uptake of inert gases. above sea level.4. • For at least 12 hours following any dive. 4. he should return to the depth of the missed decompression stops (with a dive buddy) and remain for 1 1/2 times the required decompression stop time. The relative change in Air Diving and Decompression 4-23 .S. pure oxygen can be used to shorten decompression on the 20 and 10 fsw stops. or other emergencies. • If the time spent at 10–15 feet did not equal or exceed the required time. • If asymptomatic. the diver should be placed on oxygen for a minimum of 30 minutes. the barometric or ambient pressure at the surface of the lake (dam) is less than that at sea level. the divers will remain at an altitude no higher than 1.4. Whenever a dive is made at altitudes more than 1. and since that pressure is different.2 Omitted Decompression 2 Should a diver not realize that he has exceeded the nodecompression limits prior to reaching the surface. • Once on the surface. and he does not have access to U. the inert gas gradient is significantly increased. 4. the diver should be transported to the chamber for possible treatment. immediate treatment using the appropriate treatment table should be instituted. some compensation is needed in using standard air or nitrox decompression tables. and he can be returned safely to the water within five minutes after surfacing. First.1 Omitted Decompression 1 Should a diver realize that he has exceeded the nodecompression limits prior to reaching the surface. In addition. he should be transported (on oxygen) to the nearest medical facility for treatment. whichever comes first. he is best off remaining out of the water for at least 12 hours.

000 ft. of altitude should be added to the reading of a sealed reference gauge before entering Table 4.4 Need for Correction No correction is required for dives conducted at altitudes between sea level and 300 ft. Because of the reduced density of the air trapped in the capillary gauge at altitude. At altitudes between 300 and 1.7 psi To simplify calculations. A deeper sea level equivalent dive provides the extra decompression needed to offset effects of diving at altitude. a measured downline should be used. 4. 4.6 fsw 14. less water pressure is required than at sea level to compress the air to a given volume.23 psia.23 psi = 16. therefore. is 12. the actual dive depth must first be corrected to determine the sea level equivalent depth. Table 4. Enter Table 4..000 ft. Strictly speaking. Using pounds per square inch (psi) as a unit for expressing atmospheric pressure at altitude equivalent depth is then: Equivalent Depth (fsw) = Altitude Depth (fsw) × Pressure at Sea Level (psi) Pressure at Altitude (psi) Example: A NOAA diver makes a no-decompression dive at an altitude of 5.5. the gauge will read less than zero (unless there is a pin that stops the needle at zero).1 fsw 4.1 Altitude Correction Procedure To apply the “Cross Correction” technique.7 psi.000 ft. As a result. correction is required for dives deeper than 145 fsw (actual depth). thus no corrections will be made based on water salinity.23 psi = 72.1.1. Most mechanical depth gauges carried by divers have a sealed one-atmosphere reference and cannot be adjusted for altitude. Depth of a sea level equivalent dive is determined by multiplying the depth of the dive at altitude by a ratio of atmospheric pressure at sea level (14. correction is required for all dives.000 ft in 1. At altitudes above 1.1.1. 4. [Note: This ratio is inverse to the ratio in the formula above. no further correction of the reading is required. such a gauge will give a reading that is shallower than the actual depth.000 ft. An alternative approach is to correct the altitude dive to obtain an equivalent sea level dive.000 ft. A sounding line or fathometer may be used to measure the depth if a suitable depth gauge is not available.5.pressure on descent in the water will be greater than as sea level. A correction factor of 1 fsw for every 1. thus they will read low throughout a dive at altitude. The depth readings can be corrected by adding a depth that is equal to the difference between the atmospheric pressure at the altitude site and one ata.5.6 Correction of Depth Gauges Neither oil-filled nor capillary depth gauges provide accurate depth indications when used at altitude. Atmospheric pressure at sea level is 14.1 gives corrected sea level equivalent depths and equivalent stops depths for dives from 10-190 ft and for altitudes from 1. dives conducted at altitude require more decompression than identical dives conducted at sea level.000 ft.2 we find that the atmospheric pressure measured at 5. Example: A diver makes a dive to 60 fsw at an altitude of 5.1 directly with the depth indicated on the line or fathometer. Standard air decompression tables. but this correction can safely be ignored.] Altitude Stop Depth (fsw) = Pressure at Altitude (psi) Sea Level Stop Depth (fsw) × Pressure at Sea Level (psi) 4-24 NOAA Diving Manual . Because of the reduced atmospheric pressure.7 psi 12. Once re-zeroed. At reduced atmospheric pressure.000 ft. This procedure is commonly known as the “Cross Correction” technique and always yields a sea level dive that is deeper than the actual dive at altitude.2).2 Correction of Depth of Dive Though fresh water is less dense than sea water. then determine the decompression requirement using standard tables.1. Some organizations calculate specific decompression tables for use at each altitude.7 psi) to atmospheric pressure at altitude (see Table 4. cannot be used as written. the capillary gauge will indicate a depth greater than the actual depth. requiring the tables to be adjusted for altitude. all dives will be assumed to be conducted in sea water.1. 4. not the water pressure. increments. Oil-filled depth gauges are designed to read 0 ft. Because of the question about the accuracy of these gauges.2 shows mean atmospheric pressures at various altitudes and the corrections necessary for oil-filled gauges.000 to 10. Sea level equivalent depth is then: Equivalent Depth (fsw) = 60 fsw × 14.3 Correction for Decompression Stop Depths Depth of the corrected stop at altitude is calculated by multiplying depth of a sea level equivalent stop by a ratio of atmospheric pressure at altitude to atmospheric pressure at sea level. These devices measure the linear distance below the surface of the water. 4.5. and wants to perform a precautionary safety stop at 20 fsw.5. Stop depth used at altitude is then: Altitude Stop Depth (fsw) = 20 fsw × 12.5 Depth Measurement at Altitude The preferred method for measuring depth at altitude is a mechanical or electronic gauge that can be re-zeroed at the dive site. Table 4. in the water. at a pressure of one ata. ascent rate should also be corrected.5.1. Using Table 4. The additional risk associated with these dives is minimal..

000 15 20 25 30 35 50 50 60 60 70 70 80 90 90 100 100 110 110 120 130 130 140 140 150 160 160 170 170 180 180 190 200 200 Altitude (feet) 5.000 15 20 25 35 40 50 50 60 70 70 80 90 90 100 100 110 120 120 130 140 140 150 150 160 170 170 180 190 190 200 200 7.000 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 50 60 60 70 70 80 90 90 100 100 110 110 120 120 130 130 140 140 150 160 160 170 170 180 180 190 190 200 200 3.000 15 25 30 35 50 50 60 70 70 80 90 90 100 110 110 120 130 130 140 150 150 160 170 170 180 190 190 200 210 9.000 15 20 30 35 40 50 60 60 70 80 80 90 100 100 110 120 120 130 130 140 150 150 160 170 170 180 190 190 200 210 8.1 Sea Level Equivalent Depth (fsw) Actual Depth (fsw) 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110 115 120 125 130 135 140 145 150 155 160 165 170 175 180 185 190 1.TABLE 4.000 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100 105 110 115 120 125 130 135 140 145 160 170 170 180 180 190 190 200 200 2.000 15 25 30 40 50 60 60 70 80 80 90 100 110 110 120 130 140 140 150 160 160 170 180 190 190 200 210 Note: Numbers below this bar Table Water Stops 10 20 30 40 50 60 10 19 29 39 48 58 9 19 28 37 47 56 9 18 27 36 45 54 are Exceptional Exposure Limits Equivalent Stop Depths (fsw) 9 17 26 35 43 52 8 17 25 33 42 50 8 16 24 32 40 48 8 15 23 31 39 46 7 15 22 30 37 45 7 14 21 29 36 43 7 14 21 28 34 41 Air Diving and Decompression 4-25 .000 15 25 30 35 50 50 60 70 70 80 90 100 100 110 120 120 130 140 140 150 160 170 170 180 190 190 200 210 10.000 15 20 25 35 40 50 50 60 70 70 80 80 90 100 100 110 110 120 130 130 140 140 150 160 160 170 170 180 190 190 200 200 6.000 15 20 25 30 35 40 50 60 60 70 70 80 80 90 90 100 110 110 120 120 130 130 140 140 150 160 160 170 170 180 180 190 190 200 210 4.

6 429. the initial repetitive group to be used at 10..72 9. 4.9 Breathing Gases Seek expert guidance on the use of compressed air and other breathing gases at high altitude.500 0. It also begins a series of complicated adjustments to the lower partial pressure of oxygen.S.15 13.1.98 14.000 m altitude.5. 4. Table 4). From Table 4.99 8.000 ft.715 0. ft 0 1.73 8.31 7. From Table 4.930 0.58 11. dive is 130 fsw.612 0.5. Example: A diver ascends to 6. The probable advantages of nitrox have not yet been fully explored. Twelve hours at altitude is required for equilibration.1.73 9.1 395.588 0.093 ft.67 10.64 8.92 10.003 m).565 0.61 5. but use of nitrox and standard air tables corrected for altitude should introduce an extra level of safety. although it has been known to occur as low as 8. fly by helicopter to the dive site at 10.542 0. As a result.3 can also be used when a diver who is fully equilibrated at one altitude ascends to and dives at a higher altitude. ft mmHg psi atm* 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000 11000 12000 13000 14000 15000 16000 17000 18000 19000 20000 760.23 11. (4.772 0.1 586.11 9.521 0. From the new repetitive group and sea level equivalent depth. Special altitude nitrox tables can be calculated from variable gas-mixture algorithms.0 732. The first process is called equilibration. determine the residual nitrogen time associated with the dive.1.588 0. is Group C. Using this group and the time at altitude before diving. divers make a 20-minute air dive to 62 ft. 4. Add this time to the actual bottom time of the dive.896 0.662 0.2 gives the repetitive group associated with an initial ascent to altitude.35 10.636 0.000 ft. Navy No-Decompression Tables will be used for decompression.70 6.2 with the difference between the two altitudes to determine an initial repetitive group. repetitive group upon arrival at 6.7 681.6 543.000 ft.4 632.000 ft.37 3. In effect. the diver will desaturate to Group D (Appendix IV.47 12.96 17. The U.25 16.1. Appendix IV. enter the Residual Nitrogen Timetable for Repetitive Air Dives (see Appendix IV.17 13.04 6.66 7.125 ft.75 7. If a diver begins a dive at altitude less than 12 hours after arrival. Example: Divers equilibrated at a base camp altitude of 6.5.5 14. Table 4) to determine a new repetitive group designator associated with that period of equilibration.2 656.8 Altitude Sickness This is a real problem above 13. The body off-gases excess nitrogen to come into equilibrium with the lower partial pressure of nitrogen in the atmosphere.000 feet? Solution: The difference between the altitudes is 4.51 10.000 0.17 12. WARNING DIVING AT ALTITUDES ABOVE 10. The diver should add 11 minutes to bottom time. Table 4. Pressure.76 15. Depth was measured with a boat-mounted pneumofathometer and verified.76 1.1 412.5 464.54 16. in a helicopter and begins a dive to 100 ft.479 0..35 7.9 706. Solution: From Table 4. A longer period is required for full acclimatization.2 Pressure Variations with Altitude Altitude. 90 minutes later.4 609. Example: Five hours after arriving at an altitude of 7.2 at 4.000 FEET IMPOSES SERIOUS STRESS ON THE BODY AND IS STRONGLY DISCOURAGED.3 522. with the first dive being the ascent from sea level to altitude. All divers on high-altitude dives should be familiar with the symptoms and treatment of altitude sickness (Hackett 1988). the diver may experience symptoms of hypoxia and breathing difficulty for a period after the dive.35 13.964 0.832 0.000 ft. residual nitrogen time for a 130 fsw dive in Group D is 11 minutes. the initial dive at altitude can be considered a repetitive dive. What would be the starting repetitive group letter upon arrival at 10.468 m). Entering Table 4.Table 4.743 0. During 90 minutes at altitude.70 14.864 0.70 12.22 2.53 4. What is the proper decompression schedule? 4-26 NOAA Diving Manual . Pressure.78 11.2. sea level equivalent depth for a 100 ft. Pure oxygen has been used successfully during no-stop decompression diving at 6.750 ft.1.8 364.4 349. Allow for expansion of the gas with decreasing atmospheric pressure if filling is carried out substantially lower than the dive.000 feet.28 * U.461 Repetitive Group A B B C D E E F G H Oil-filled Gauge Correction.7 Hypoxia During Altitude Diving A diver surfacing from an altitude dive is moving from a breathing gas in which the oxygen partial pressure is relatively high to an atmosphere in which it is low. Most divers will not find themselves under these conditions. standard atmosphere.1. Pressure.S.67 13. is Group E. How much residual nitrogen time should be added to the dive? TABLE 4.8 483.97 7. Enter Table 4.35 8.7 379. two things happen.801 0.000 ft. Determine sea level equivalent depth for the planned dive using Table 4.5 584.10 Equilibration at Altitude Upon ascent to altitude.8 502.67 18. (2.5. the residual nitrogen left over from sea level must be taken into account.8 446. the second is called acclimatization. Altitude sickness can be prevented with proper acclimatization.4.

the diver makes a second dive to 30 ft. 4. which is 8 ft.000 ft. The Sea Level Equivalent Depth for the second dive is 100 fsw. The diver must delay one hour and 23 minutes before crossing the pass. The appropriate decompression schedule from the Standard Decompression Table is 100 fsw for 40 min. Table 4. (5.500 ft (7. Table 4. Because the diver has made two dives in the previous 24-hour period. The repetitive group upon arrival at altitude is Group F (see Table 4.500 ft.3 at 4. For example.000 ft.). The repetitive group designation upon completion of the 20 minute dive is Group G. Ascent to altitude after diving increases the risk of decompression sickness because of the additional reduction in atmospheric pressure. for 60 minutes no-decompression dive at sea level in Repetitive Group J.12 Ascent to Altitude After Diving/ Flying After Diving Leaving the dive site may require temporary ascent to a higher altitude. The ending group is letter K. Appendix IV). the diver plans to ascend to 7.1 is entered at a depth of 85 ft. they make a second dive to 75 ft. Example: A diver surfaces from a 60 ft.000 ft. What is the required surface interval before flying? Solution: The planned increase in altitude is 8.000–2. Enter Table 4.1. The residual nitrogen time for Group D at 100 is 14 minutes. Table 4. Read the required surface interval from the column for the planned change in altitude. divers make a dive to 82 ft. He plans to fly home in a commercial aircraft in which the cabin pressure is controlled at 8. The Sea Level Equivalent Depth for 8. The diver must delay six hours and 25 minutes before taking the flight. The diver must wait 17 hours and 35 minutes after completion of the second dive before flying. The Equivalent Single Dive Time therefore is 27 minutes.11 Repetitive Dives Repetitive dives may be conducted at altitude. and read down to Repetitive Group K. (rounded up from 3. in order to cross a mountain pass. is required by the schedule. the diver plans to fly home in an unpressurized aircraft at 5. The diver’s repetitive group upon surfacing is Group G. The equivalent single dive time therefore is 34 minutes. Example: Fourteen hours after ascending to an altitude of 4.. The higher the altitude. 4. for 20 minutes and decompress on the Standard Decompression Table. Enter the table with the highest repetitive group designator obtained in the previous 24-hour period. This decays to Group D during the two hours ten minutes surface interval. for 20 minutes placing him in Repetitive Group C. divers may drive over a mountain pass at higher altitude or leave the dive site by air.000 ft.000 ft.000 ft. What is the required surface interval before crossing the pass? Solution: The planned increase in altitude is 3. with the exception that the sea level equivalent dive depth is always used to replace the actual dive depth. and read down to Repetitive Group J. no residual nitrogen needs to be added to the bottom time.000 ft. of altitude is 90 fsw.1.000 ft.1 is consulted to determine the altitude stop depth for 10 fsw. After two hours and ten minutes on the surface. Enter Table 4.3 gives the surface interval (hours:minutes) required before making a further ascent to altitude. Depth was measured prior to the dive with a sounding line. What is the required surface interval before flying? Solution: The planned increase in altitude is 3. This decays to Group B during the five hours at altitude predive (see Table 4.2).000 ft.).S.5. The procedure is identical to that at sea level. After a surface interval of six hours ten minutes.S. Navy Surface Decompression Table is 90 fsw for 30 minutes.1 is entered at depth of 65 ft. The appropriate decompression schedule from the U. Navy No-Decompression Tables.000 ft.) and read down to Repetitive Group G. Example: Upon completion of a dive at 2.3 at 3. What is the proper decompression schedule for the second dive? Solution: The altitude is first rounded up to 5. A 15-minute stop at ten ft. The depth of the second dive is 75 ft.. Air Diving and Decompression 4-27 .Solution: The altitude is first rounded up to 8. The repetitive group designation at the end of the dive will be letter H.000 ft. The surface interval depends on the planned increase in altitude and the highest repetitive group designator obtained in the previous 24-hour period.000 ft.3).. (Pressurized commercial airline flights are addressed in Note 3 of Table 4.850 ft. he must use the highest Repetitive Group Designator obtained during the two dives which was J. Table 4. The diver’s repetitive group designator upon surfacing is Group K. Since the dive was conducted more than 12 hours after arriving at altitude. the greater the risk.5. Example: Upon completion of a dive at an altitude of 4. for 20 minutes using the U.000 ft. The residual nitrogen time for Group B at 90 fsw is seven minutes.3 at 8. Enter Table 4.000 ft.500 ft. Table 4. The Sea Level Equivalent Depth for the first dive is 110 fsw.1 is entered at an actual depth of 75 ft.500–4.

000 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 1:32 3:00 4:21 5:35 6:43 7:47 8:17 2.000 0:00 0:00 0:00 3:28 6:54 9:43 12:05 14:09 15:58 17:35 19:03 20:23 21:37 22:46 23:49 24:00 9.000 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 1:31 3:20 4:57 6:25 7:46 9:00 10:08 11:12 11:42 4. 4-28 NOAA Diving Manual . the nominal value is 8. In this case. NOTE 6 For ascent to altitude following a non-saturation helium-oxygen dive. or less. flying results in an increase in atmospheric pressure rather than a decrease. NOTE 2 Table 4-3 may only be used when the maximum altitude achieved is 10.000 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 1:12 3:34 5:37 7:26 9:04 10:32 11:52 13:06 14:14 15:18 15:49 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:51 3:40 6:02 8:05 9:54 11:32 13:00 14:20 15:34 16:42 17:46 18:17 1.000 ft.3 Required Surface Interval Before Ascent to Altitude After Diving Repetitive Group Designator A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O Z Altitude 5.000 ft. wait 12 hours if the dive was a no-decompression dive. For these surface decompression dives. enter the standard air table with the sea level equivalent depth and bottom time of the dive to obtain the appropriate repetitive group designator to be used.000 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 1:23 3:26 5:15 6:52 8:20 9:41 10:55 12:03 13:07 13:37 7. NOTE 5 No repetitive group is given for air dives with surface decompression on oxygen or air. or higher. For ascents above 10.000 ft. NOTE 3 The cabin pressure in commercial aircraft is maintained at a constant value regardless of the actual altitude of the flight.000 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:09 3:35 6:23 8:46 10:49 12:38 14:16 15:44 17:04 18:18 19:26 20:30 21:01 8. NOTE 4 No surface interval is required before taking a commercial flight if the dive site is at 8..000 feet to compute the required surface interval before flying. Though cabin pressure varies somewhat with aircraft type.TABLE 4.000 6.000 0:00 2:11 8:26 12:52 16:18 19:07 21:29 23:33 24:00 24:00 24:00 24:00 24:00 24:00 24:00 24:00 Exceptional Exposure Wait 48 hours before flying NOTE 1 When using Table 4-3.000 0:00 0:00 3:06 7:33 10:59 13:47 16:10 18:13 20:02 21:39 23:07 24:00 24:00 24:00 24:00 24:00 10. consult NOAA Diving Program for guidance. Wait 24 hours if the dive was a decompression dive. use the highest repetitive group designator obtained in the previous 24-hour period.000 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 0:00 1:32 3:09 4:37 5:57 7:11 8:20 9:24 9:54 3.

2 Making Slow Ascents and Safety Stops As discussed earlier.1 Reverse Profile Dives A reverse profile can refer to a series of repetitive dives during which the deepest dive is not the first in the series. assume that the deepest depth reached during the dive was the actual depth for the entire dive. the U. yet use the U. Many dives.6. Still. It also means that the ABT will more closely match the time recorded by the dive computer or automatic timing device. however. which typically records bottom time as being from the beginning of descent until the end of ascent. Dive tables. 4. 4. Earlier in this section. in contrast. providing computer users with no additional margin of safety. Dive computers automatically account for multi-level diving. we help reduce the risk of DCS. Therefore.S. This involves not DIRECT ASCENT AT NO MORE THAN 30 FEET PER MINUTE only staying well within the no-decompression limits but also avoiding minimum Surface Intervals. Navy Dive Tables have a fairly good track record when it comes to helping divers avoid DCS.26).4.6 BUILDING ADDITIONAL SAFETY FACTORS INTO DIVE TABLE USAGE The U.6. the U.3 Taking Advantage of the Dive Table’s Inherent Margin of Safety on Multi-Level Dives The U. Wise divers avoid “pushing” dive table or dive computer limits unless absolutely necessary. there are many steps experts believe can be taken to further reduce the risk of decompression sickness. however.S. Navy. may enjoy an additional margin of safety that computer users do not (see Figure 4. For this reason.1 Remaining Well Within No-Decompression and Other Limits Many experts believe that the closer one comes to the no-decompression limits. divers who make multi-level dives. a diver can add the time spent making such stops to Actual Bottom Time (ABT). nor the factors that may make a particular diver more or less susceptible to decompression sickness (DCS) at any given time.26 Actual Dive Profile Versus an Assumed Dive Profile Air Diving and Decompression PROFILE SUME ASSUMED DIVE VE D DI L UA TU A AC E IL FI RO PR B OT TO M TIME ENDS Time 4-29 . There is no convincing evidence that reverse dive profiles within the no-decompression limits subject a diver to a measurable increase in the risk of DCS. that the examples provided were based on extenuating circumstances.6. are what are known as multilevel dives—in which participants will be at a variety of depths throughout the dive. Navy Dive Tables are based on a mathematical model designed to emulate how most human bodies absorb and release nitrogen. wise divers choose to remain well within dive table or dive computer limits. examples were presented of how one would go about finding the minimum allowable Surface Interval between dives. Navy Dive Tables are based on the assumption that users will make what are known as square profile dives—dives in which participants descend almost immediately to their maximum depth and remain at this depth until beginning their ascent. Fortunately. it is important to remember that no dive table or dive computer can provide a guarantee of protection against decompression sickness. As with other dive tables and dive computers.S.S. Depth B OT TO M T I M E S TA R T S FIGURE 4. or to a single multi-level dive during which the diver goes deeper after completing a shallower phase. slow ascents and precautionary decompression (“safety”) stops help reduce the size and quantity of gas bubbles formed in body tissues as divers ascend.6. Even when using these items correctly. the greater the risk of DCS. Many researchers believe that such asymptomatic or “silent” bubbles are a precursor to decompression sickness and that by reducing the size and quantity of such bubbles. Reverse profile dives should be conducted within the following parameters: • No-decompression dives in less than 130 fsw (40 msw) • Depth differentials of less than 40 fsw (12 msw) Regardless of the dive profile. They cannot take into account the wide range of human body and tissue types.S. 4. This section discusses several of these steps.S. Navy Dive Tables have no magical ability to protect users from decompression sickness. To make safety stops even safer. Researchers still know surprisingly little about the exact causes and nature of DCS. 4. Bear in mind. there is always a risk of DCS. Navy or similar dive tables correctly. it is safest to be in the shallowest phase late in the dive when air supplies are low. Thus. Doing so further increases the safety margin.3. Several recreational diver training organizations go so far as to publish dive tables with no-decompression limits that are more conservative than those of the U.

see Table 4. 4. further reducing the risk of DCS. Fit divers also tend to have a lower overall level of carbon dioxide in their systems at any time.4. if you enter the chart with an “E” group letter and have a surface interval of three hours. The SIT chart is entered vertically coming down the column from Chart 1 and followed downward until you find a range of times into which the length of your surface interval falls. Navy Dive Tables titled NOAA No-Decompression Air Dive Table. However. which is called the “Dive Times with End-of-Dive Group Letter” chart.7. The longer you remain out of the water. decompression is based on 70 fsw/45 minutes schedule.6.S. Among the ways to do so: • Avoid factors such as cold. see Appendix III.6) the “Surface Interval Time” (SIT) chart. For example. (see Table 4.7 NOAA NO-DECOMPRESSION DIVE CHARTS NOAA has developed an abbreviated no-decompression dive table based upon the U. Now follow that column downward.4 Following Recommendations Concerning Cold and Arduous Dives Unfortunately.” Note that the maximum time in the chart is 12 hours. you will exit the chart on the third horizontal line and end up with a new group letter of “C. Then follow that row horizontally to the left. Look at Chart 1 (see Table 4. as these can lead to dehydration). Chart 1 is entered horizontally from the left. and find the group letter designation that indicates the amount of nitrogen remaining in your system following a dive. The numbers on the chart represent bottom time in minutes. Navy’s recommendation for cold/arduous dives. For example. It makes sense to manage these risks intelligently. It consists of blocks containing two numbers which represent the minimum and maximum times for assignment to a particular group letter. Chart 3 is the “Repetitive Dive Time.S.6. Divers can control their levels of health and fitness. Crediting you with the loss of that nitrogen is the purpose of Chart 2. 4. and fatigue. page III-1. the more excess nitrogen you eliminate. Navy Air Decompression Tables and presented in a format designed by the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI) for recreational diving. whenever possible. Your Actual Bottom Time (ABT) must not exceed the Adjusted Maximum Dive Time (AMDT). exit the chart. To use Chart 3. which helps in the off-gassing of nitrogen. and thus fail to afford dive-table users the additional margin of safety they enjoy when making multi-level dives. Under these circumstances.” It tells your Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) based on your current group letter and your planned depth and provides Maximum Dive Times that are reduced by the amount of your RNT. They will drink plenty of fluids (while avoiding coffee and alcohol. There are factors that may contribute to the risk of DCS. Find the row for the appropriate depth and move to the right along the line until you find a bottom time that meets or exceeds your dive time.5 Managing Additional Risk Factors That May Contribute to Decompression Sickness There are additional factors that experts believe may contribute to the risk of DCS over which divers have control. • Maintain a high level of personal fitness. You begin with Chart 1.1 General The NOAA No-Decompression Charts are based upon the U. Normally decompression would be based on a 70 fsw/40 minutes schedule. and receive a new letter designation.S. Additionally. This formula (RNT + ABT = ESDT) is illustrated in the upper left corner. (12–40 m) and the group letter designation at the end of a dive. The times are expressed as hours and minutes (Hours:Minutes). Lean tissue absorbs less nitrogen than fat tissue.5) and note that maximum times are circled for each depth. a person who dives to 50 ft. so a dive after that amount of time is not a repetitive dive. They will further plan dives in such a manner as to require the least possible exertion. many research and other working dives fall into the category of square-profile diving. divers should follow the U. other than to allow additional safety margins. such as age over which we have little control. The charts are configured so that each of three charts flows into the next. Increased personal fitness tends to lead to increased respiratory efficiency.4 and Appendix III.7) enter it horizontally from the right on the row representing your group letter designation after your SIT and move to the left until you intersect the column corresponding to the depth of your 4-30 NOAA Diving Manual . (see Table 4. consider that the dive has been made to the next greater time increment appearing on the tables. exit the chart. because of the cold water temperature. Being fit benefits divers in a number of ways. Wise divers will wear adequate exposure protection both above and below the water. such dives often take place in cold water and require divers to exert themselves—both factors that experts believe may contribute to the onset of decompression sickness. Chart 1 provides maximum dive time information for dives between 40 and 130 ft. (15 m) for 30 minutes would have an “E” group letter designation. a dive is made to a depth of 65 fsw for 40 minutes in 48°F water temperature. dehydration. For example. 4. Your Residual Nitrogen Time (RNT) must be added to your ABT to obtain your Equivalent Single Dive Time (ESDT). that is.

DEPTH msw fsw 00 MAXIMUM NO-STOP TIME DIVE TIME REQUIRING DECOMPRESSION MINUTES REQUIRED AT 10 fsw STOP (3msw) 00 00 12 40 15 50 18 60 22 70 25 80 28 90 31 100 34 110 37 120 40 130 5 15 25 30 40 50 70 80 100 110 130 150 170 200 10 15 25 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 10 15 20 25 30 40 50 55 60 5 10 15 20 30 35 40 45 50 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 5 10 12 15 20 25 30 5 7 10 15 20 22 25 5 10 13 15 20 5 10 12 15 5 8 10 15 1 25 3 20 2 20 4 30 3 30 7 30 14 25 10 40 7 40 15 70 2 60 8 50 10 80 7 70 14 60 17 50 18 120 5 100 14 80 18 70 23 60 25 160 21 RNT RESIDUAL NITROGEN TIME + ABT ACTUAL BOTTOM TIME ESDT EQUIVALENT SINGLE DIVE TIME (USE ESDT TO DETERMINE END-OF-DIVE LETTER GROUP) 25 6 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 7 193 17 183 25 175 37 163 49 151 61 139 73 127 87 113 101 99 116 84 138 62 161 39 187 13 213 0 6 94 13 87 21 79 29 71 38 62 47 53 56 44 66 34 76 24 87 13 99 1 111 0 124 0 142 0 5 55 11 49 17 43 24 36 30 30 36 24 44 16 52 8 61 0 70 0 79 0 88 0 97 0 107 0 4 46 9 41 15 35 20 30 26 24 31 19 37 13 43 7 50 0 57 0 64 0 72 0 80 0 87 0 4 36 8 32 13 27 18 22 23 17 28 12 32 8 38 2 43 0 48 0 54 0 61 0 68 0 73 0 3 27 7 23 11 19 16 14 20 10 24 6 29 1 33 0 38 0 43 0 47 0 53 0 58 0 64 0 3 22 7 18 10 15 14 11 18 7 22 3 26 0 30 0 34 0 38 0 43 0 48 0 52 0 57 0 3 17 6 14 10 10 13 7 16 4 20 0 24 0 27 0 31 0 3 12 6 9 9 6 12 3 15 0 18 0 21 0 25 0 28 0 3 7 6 4 8 2 11 0 13 0 16 0 19 0 22 0 25 0 GROUP LETTER A B C D E F G H I J K L M N 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 0:10 3:21 4:50 5:49 6:35 3:20 0:10 4:49 1:40 1:39 0:10 5:48 2:39 2:38 1:10 1:09 0:10 6:34 3:25 3:24 1:58 1:57 0:55 0:54 0:10 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 7:06 7:36 8:00 8:22 8:51 8:59 9:13 9:29 7:05 3:58 3:57 2:29 2:28 1:30 1:29 0:46 0:45 0:10 7:35 4:26 4:25 2:59 2:58 2:00 1:59 1:16 1:15 0:41 0:40 0:10 7:59 4:50 4:49 3:21 3:20 2:24 2:23 1:42 1:41 1:07 1:06 0:37 0:36 0:10 8:21 5:13 5:12 3:44 3:43 2:45 2:44 2:03 2:02 1:30 1:29 1:00 0:59 0:34 0:33 0:10 8:50 5:41 5:40 4:03 4:02 3:05 3:04 2:21 2:20 1:48 1:47 1:20 1:19 0:55 0:54 0:32 0:31 0:10 8:58 5:49 5:48 4:20 4:19 3:22 3:21 2:39 2:38 2:04 2:03 1:36 1:35 1:12 1:11 0:50 0:49 0:29 0:28 0:10 9:12 6:03 6:02 4:36 4:35 3:37 3:36 2:54 2:53 2:20 2:19 1:50 1:49 1:26 1:25 1:05 1:04 0:46 0:45 0:27 0:26 0:10 9:28 6:19 6:18 4:50 4:49 3:53 3:52 3:09 3:08 2:35 2:34 2:06 2:05 1:36 1:35 1:19 1:18 1:00 0:59 0:43 0:42 0:26 0:25 0:10 12:00 9:44 9:43 6:33 6:32 5:04 5:03 4:05 4:04 3:23 3:22 2:48 2:47 2:19 2:18 1:54 1:53 1:31 1:30 1:12 1:11 0:55 0:54 0:40 0:39 0:25 0:24 0:10 CHART 3 Ñ REPETITIVE DIVE TIME 00 00 CHART 2 Ñ SURF ACE INTERVAL TIME TOP NUMBERS (RED) ARE RESIDUAL NITROGEN TIMES. CONSERVATIVE USAGE IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.4 No-Decompression Air Dive Table Air Diving and Decompression 4-31 . RNT BOTTOM NUMBERS (BLACK) ARE ADJUSTED MAXIMUM DIVE TIME FOR A REPETITIVE DIVE WITH NO DECOMPRESSION BLACK AREA: REQUIRES DECOMPRESSION TABLE 4.NOAA NO-DECOMPRESSION AIR DIVE TABLE CHART 1 Ñ DIVE TIMES WITH END-OF-DIVE GROUP LETTER WARNING: EVEN STRICT COMPLIANCE WITH THESE CHARTS WILL NOT GUARANTEE AVOIDANCE OF DECOMPRESSION SICKNESS.

At the intersection of the depth and the group CHART 1 Ñ DIVE TIMES WITH END-OF-DIVE GROUP LETTER DEPTH msw fsw 00 MAXIMUM NO-STOP TIME DIVE TIME REQUIRING DECOMPRESSION MINUTES REQUIRED AT 10 fsw STOP (3msw) 00 00 12 40 15 50 18 60 22 70 25 80 28 90 31 100 34 110 37 120 40 130 0 GROUP LETTER 5 15 25 30 40 50 70 80 100 110 130 150 170 200 10 15 25 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 10 15 20 25 30 40 50 55 60 5 10 15 20 30 35 40 45 50 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 5 10 12 15 20 25 30 5 7 10 15 20 22 25 5 10 13 15 20 5 10 12 15 5 8 10 15 1 25 3 20 2 20 4 30 3 30 7 30 14 25 10 40 7 40 15 70 2 60 8 50 10 80 7 70 14 60 17 50 18 120 5 100 14 80 18 70 23 60 25 160 21 25 6 letter you will find two numbers. Depths are listed across the top of the chart.planned repetitive dive. The top number represents RNT for that depth. The diver proceeds with the dive. This means the diver has 21 minutes of RNT and the duration of the ABT must not exceed 79 minutes. the bottom number represents the Adjusted Maximum Dive Time (AMDT) for the depth. you will find they all total the Maximum Dive Time Limit for that depth in Chart 1. TABLE 4. If you compare the totals of the AMDT and the Residual Nitrogen Times for any depth. you find the number 21 over the number 79.5 Chart 1Ñ Dive Times with End-of-Dive Group Letter 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 7 193 17 183 6 94 13 87 21 79 29 71 38 62 47 53 56 44 66 34 76 24 87 13 99 1 111 0 124 0 142 0 5 55 11 49 17 43 24 36 30 30 36 24 44 16 52 8 61 0 70 0 79 0 88 0 97 0 107 0 4 46 9 41 15 35 20 30 26 24 31 19 37 13 43 7 50 0 57 0 64 0 72 0 80 0 87 0 4 36 8 32 13 27 18 22 23 17 28 12 32 8 38 2 43 0 48 0 54 0 61 0 68 0 73 0 3 27 7 23 11 19 16 14 20 10 24 6 29 1 33 0 38 0 43 0 47 0 53 0 58 0 64 0 3 22 7 18 10 15 14 11 18 7 22 3 26 0 30 0 34 0 38 0 43 0 48 0 52 0 57 0 3 17 6 14 10 10 13 7 16 4 20 0 24 0 27 0 31 0 3 12 6 9 9 6 12 3 15 0 18 0 21 0 25 0 28 0 3 7 6 4 8 2 11 0 13 0 16 0 19 0 22 0 25 0 GROUP LETTER GROUP LETTER 25 175 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 12:00 0:10 3:21 4:50 5:49 6:35 7:06 7:36 8:00 8:22 8:51 8:59 9:13 9:29 3:20 0:10 4:49 1:40 1:39 0:10 5:48 2:39 2:38 1:10 1:09 0:10 6:34 3:25 3:24 1:58 1:57 0:55 0:54 0:10 7:05 3:58 3:57 2:29 2:28 1:30 1:29 0:46 0:45 0:10 7:35 4:26 4:25 2:59 2:58 2:00 1:59 1:16 1:15 0:41 0:40 0:10 7:59 4:50 4:49 3:21 3:20 2:24 2:23 1:42 1:41 1:07 1:06 0:37 0:36 0:10 8:21 5:13 5:12 3:44 3:43 2:45 2:44 2:03 2:02 1:30 1:29 1:00 0:59 0:34 0:33 0:10 8:50 5:41 5:40 4:03 4:02 3:05 3:04 2:21 2:20 1:48 1:47 1:20 1:19 0:55 0:54 0:32 0:31 0:10 8:58 5:49 5:48 4:20 4:19 3:22 3:21 2:39 2:38 2:04 2:03 1:36 1:35 1:12 1:11 0:50 0:49 0:29 0:28 0:10 9:12 6:03 6:02 4:36 4:35 3:37 3:36 2:54 2:53 2:20 2:19 1:50 1:49 1:26 1:25 1:05 1:04 0:46 0:45 0:27 0:26 0:10 9:28 6:19 6:18 4:50 4:49 3:53 3:52 3:09 3:08 2:35 2:34 2:06 2:05 1:36 1:35 1:19 1:18 1:00 0:59 0:43 0:42 0:26 0:25 0:10 12:00 9:44 9:43 6:33 6:32 5:04 5:03 4:05 4:04 3:23 3:22 2:48 2:47 2:19 2:18 1:54 1:53 1:31 1:30 1:12 1:11 0:55 0:54 0:40 0:39 0:25 0:24 0:10 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N 37 163 49 151 61 139 73 127 87 113 101 99 116 84 138 62 161 39 187 13 213 0 CHART 2 Ñ SURF ACE INTERVAL TIME E FOR A REPETITIVE DIVE WITH NO DECOMPRESSION A B C D E F G H I J K L M N TABLE 4.6 Chart 2ÑSurface Interval Time TABLE 4. keeping the ABT within the 79 minute Adjusted Maximum Dive Time. Note how the cycle has been completed with the three charts. The AMDT is found by simply subtracting RNT from Maximum Dive Time for a given depth. An example of the use of Chart 3 is a “C” group letter diver planning a dive to 50 feet.7 Chart 3ÑRepetitive Dive Time 4-32 NOAA Diving Manual . Chart 3 has already done the work for you. then adds the ABT to the 21 minutes of RNT and uses the dive schedule of 50 feet (15 m)/ESDT to re-enter Chart 1 and obtain an End-of-Dive group letter. Your Actual Dive Time must not exceed your AMDT during a repetitive Dive.

This CD-ROM product is produced and distributed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Department of Commerce. Department of Commerce and Best Publishing Company.ntis. U. U.The NOAA Diving Manual was prepared jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).S. . Visit our Web site at www.S.gov.

. . . . . . . .2. . . .25 BOTTOM TIMERS . 5-47 5. . . . . . . . . .6. . . . .4 5. .2. . . . . . . . 9 BREATHING GAS BOOSTER PUMPS . . . . . . .21 SHARK DEFENSE . .2 Hoods.4 Umbilical . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 The Image Capture Medium: Prints. . . . 6 AIR COMPRESSORS AND FILTERING SYSTEMS.6 5. . . . . . . .1 Dry-Suit Valves. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6. . . . 5-35 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Maintenance . . . . . 5-18 5. 5-11 5. 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Safety Harnesses . . . . . . . .13 HOOKAH .2 Dry-Suit Seals and Accessories . . . 5-29 5. 9 Basic Video Techniques . . . 5. 2 Types of Underwater Camera Systems for Still Photography . . . . . . . . 5-29 5. . . 5-31 5. . 5-46 5. . . . . . .11.3 Lubricants . . . . . . . .26. . . .5 Dry-Suit Underwear . . 5. . . . . 5-12 5.1 5. . .12. . . . . . . . . 5-40 5. . .18 COMPASSES AND NAVIGATION . . .1 5. . . . 5-45 5. . . . . . . . . .11.2. . . . . 5-36 5. .8 5. 4 Electronic Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26. . . . 5-30 5. . . . .20 SCOOTERS . . . .1 Cylinder Markings .6. 5. . . . . . . . . . .3. . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-24 5. . . . . 5. . . .3 Communication Box . . . . . . . 2 THERMAL PROTECTION . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . .3 Dry Suits . . . . . . . . . . 5-49 . . . . . . . . . . 5. . 1 BASIC EQUIPMENT . . .5 Cylinder Valve and Manifold Assembly . . . . .2 Diver Control Manifold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11. . . . . . . . . . . 4 EMERGENCY AIR SUPPLY . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 HIGH-PRESSURE AIR STORAGE SYSTEMS . . 5. . . . .2. . . 5 COMPRESSED AIR . . . .3. . . . . .3. . .12. .6 5.5. . . . . . . . . . . . 5-42 5. . . . . . .6 5. . 5. . . . . . . .8 5. 5-21 5. . . . . . 5-26 5.5 Full-Face Masks and Helmets. . . . .1 General Safety Precautions . . .8 5. . 3 OPEN CIRCUIT SCUBA REGULATORS . . 5-11 5. . . . 5. . .7. . Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-17 5. . 5-40 5. 5-46 5. .4 Hot-Water Suits and Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Video Cameras and Housings. . . . . 5 Trays and Flash Arms . . . . . 5-49 5. 5. . . . 5-25 5. . . 5-45 5. . . . . .26. .3 Fins. . . . . . . . . . .2.12. . .26.10. 1 Still Photography vs. . . . . 5-11 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Wet Suits.2. 5-29 5. . . . .2 High-Pressure Cylinders . .2. . . . . 5-48 5. . . . 5-16 5.2. . . . . . . . .3 5. . . . . 5-44 5. . . . . 5-39 5. . .5 5. . . . .2. . .Diver and Diving Support Equipment SECTION PAGE SECTION 5. . . . 5.1. . . . . . .1 Use of Submersible Pressure Gauge. . . . . . .10 SUBMERSIBLE PRESSURE GAUGES .3 5. . . . . . .3. . . . . . . .3. . . .1 Gloves . . 3 Light and Color . .12. . . . . . . . . .5 5. 5. . .14 DEPTH GAUGES . . . . .26 UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO. . . . 5-16 5. .1 Dive Skins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-47 5.5 Suit Accessories .8 5. . . . . . .16 KNIVES . . . . . . 5-41 5. . .2. . . . . . . . . .6 Reserve Valve . 5-35 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . .3. . 5-18 5. . . . .12.5 Safety Harness and Bail-Out Cylinder .26. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 5. . .1 Maintenance . . . . .10 Camera Maintenance . . . . . . .5. .6 Maintenance of Surface-Supplied Gear . . . . . .1 5. . . . . 5-31 5. . . .22 UNDERWATER SLATES . . . . . . . . .1. .7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 SURFACE SUPPORT/MARKER FLOAT . . . . . . 5-23 5 PAGE 5. . . .7. . . . . . 5-31 5. . 5-23 5. . . . . . . .17 DIVE LIGHTS . .7 5. . . . . . . . .19 SIGNAL DEVICES . . . . . . .3 5. .2. . . . . . . . . . . .3. . . . .3 Cylinder Inspection and Maintenance . .4 5. . . .12.4 Sustained Load Cracking (SLC) in 6351 Aluminum Alloy Cylinders .6 Dry Suits and Dry-Suit Underwear Maintenance . . . . . . . . . .2 5.1 Maintenance of Wet Suits . . . . . . . . 5-17 5. . . 5. . . . . . . . . 5-33 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-38 5. . . . . 5-33 5. . . . . . . . .2 Maintenance of Buoyancy Compensators . . . . . . 0 GENERAL . 5. . . . . . 5-17 5. . . . 7 Basic Techniques for Still Photography . . . . 5. . . . . . .2. . 5-39 5.5. . . . . . . . Slides. 5-21 5. . . . and Digital . . . . . . . . .24 DIVE COMPUTERS . . . . . 5. . . . .1.11 BUOYANCY COMPENSATORS . . . . . .4 Dry-Suit Use . . .15 WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS . . . . .1 Face Masks . . . . .26. . . 7 COMPRESSED GAS CYLINDERS . . . . .11. . . . . . . . . . .26. . . . . . .2 Snorkels . . .6 5. . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-22 5. 5-41 5. . . . . . . .1 Topside Breathing Gas Source . . .3 Dry-Suit Zippers . . . .7. . . . . . . . . 5-32 5. .6. . .2. . . . . . .26. . . . . . . . . .4 Duties and Responsibilities .2 Carbon Monoxide Monitoring Device . . . . . . . .12 SURFACE-SUPPLIED DIVING EQUIPMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-37 5. . . 5.3 Weight Belts and Weights . . . . . . . . .1 Power Inflator Mechanisms . . . 5-38 5.7. . 5-48 5. . . . 5-44 5. . 5-17 5. .26. . 5. 5-14 5.7. . . .11. . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5-34 5. . . .26. . . . . . . . . . . .

Selecting the right dive gear for a scientific dive is a matter of defining the objectives of the dive and the location.0 GENERAL The type of diving equipment the diver wears has a tremendous impact on the diver’s ability to work comfortably. The NOAA Diving Program has a standardized equipment program whereby all active NOAA divers are issued dive equipment. A good diver must have a high level of fitness and must be comfortable in the water. If no air leaks into the mask and the mask stays in position. The diver then inhales through his nose. The program. making the right selection at the time of purchase is critical. A critical issue in selecting a mask is the fit. remember that streamlining is an essential factor in making it easy for the diver to swim and maneuver under water. The nose must be included inside the mask to allow the diver to equalize the pressure inside the mask by exhaling through his nostrils.1. To test the fit. Although equipment is a big factor in diver performance. holds his breath. A diver must become totally familiar with new equipment before entering a working situation. Given the durability of most diving gear. and efficiently (Bachrach and Egstrom 1986). Streamlining is crucial to productivity for the scientific diver. A competent diver should be able to dive with most any type of equipment provided he has been trained to use it. For some work. and attempts to make the mask seal against his face. as 5-1 . it should not be carried. it can be considered to be a good fit.1 Face Masks Face masks for scuba diving are designed to cover the eyes and nose. Each piece of equipment should have a definite purpose on a particular dive. With all diving equipment. safely.1 BASIC EQUIPMENT 5.Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5 5. the more drag and change of center of gravity will be created. snorkeling equipment may be all that is required. The mask must fit comfortably and not leak. provides standardization of equipment for all NOAA divers and helps ensure quality control. since it is hard to justify equipment replacement if the equipment is not worn out. which includes yearly maintenance and testing of all scuba regulators. while for other jobs surface-supplied gear may be the best choice. The more equipment the diver wears. FIGURE 5. but without using the strap to hold the mask in place. By talking with diving officers and other scientific divers. pressure and depth gauges by a factory-trained NOAA technician.1 Dive Mask with Nose Pocket 5. equipment alone cannot make up for a diver’s lack of ability in the water. This is one of the reasons that goggles that cover only the eyes are not acceptable for diving. the preferred models of gear for a particular location and type of diving are easily identified. and if it is not going to be used. the diver places the mask against his face as he would when wearing it normally.

the snorkel should not exceed 14 inches in length and should have the minimum number of bends possible. since the regulator is routed over the diver’s right shoulder. Water can also be removed from a mask without a purge. i. but can sometimes produce a “rear view effect. the inside bore of the hose must be smooth. there is no one fin that will work best for each person. to help remove any chemicals that may remain from manufacturing and may cause the mask to fog. A double feather edge is a type of sealing (double) edge on the material that fits against the face. Once it is determined that the mask fits properly. and those with corrugated hoses with internal ribs. scientific divers are usually carrying instruments. many dive stores stock lenses for their more popular mask styles. These rings allow the snorkel to be easily removed from the mask. If the snorkel has a corrugated hose. 5. the femur and tibia. or other equipment that make it impractical to use their arms for swimming.1. providing a different mechanical advantage for each diver. Many divers find that a nose “pocket” is a useful feature of a mask in that it provides a means for the diver to pinch his nostrils closed in order to aid in equalizing the pressure in his ears (see Figure 5. The human leg provides propulsion under water by moving the levers of the body. Side windows in the masks can enhance peripheral vision (Egstrom 1982). For divers who have a common prescription and do not need bifocals. produce high breathing resistance. These valves are not designed to seal the snorkel under water but to keep spray from flooding the snorkel while the diver swims on the surface.1. so that the mask can be stored in a protective box for transport to and from the dive site or during airline travel. Most modern snorkels use plastic rings or attachment devices to connect the snorkel to the diver’s mask. some masks have downward lenses or optical devices that will help the diver see more of the equipment mounted on his chest and waist. A purge is a one-way valve through which water can be expelled that enters the mask. Other features include purge valves and double feather edge seals. allowing it to bend easily. In the United States. Ideally. and a corrugated hose also makes elimination of all water in the snorkel all but impossible. The lenses of new masks need to be washed with a mild liquid detergent.” Mask windows are made from safety-tempered glass. Since these bones are of different lengths in each individual. the next most critical feature is visibility. prescription lenses are available that will fit many popular dive masks. to provide thrust through the use of the fins. add substantially to equipment dead air space (where no gas exchange takes place). The purpose of the snorkel is to allow the diver to swim more easily on the surface without consuming the compressed gas in his cylinder. In Europe. not ribbed. it may not be possible for them to use their hands for swimming purposes.3 Adjustable Heel Strap Fins 5-2 NOAA Diving Manual .long as it is comfortable. Small diameter snorkels. slates. the opposite arrangement is sometimes employed since the regulator may be directed over the diver’s left shoulder. When divers are fully geared up. the snorkel is traditionally mounted on the left side of the diver’s head.2 Snorkels A snorkel is an indispensable piece of equipment for the open water scuba diver using self-contained open circuit gear (see Figure 5. For divers who require glasses. Human leg muscles are very efficient for underwater propulsion when properly equipped.2 Snorkel with Attached Snorkel Holder FIGURE 5. since straps and thermal protection suits inhibit normal arm movement. such as dishwashing detergent. Additionally.e. A fin that works very FIGURE 5. These can be extremely effective and make surface swimming much easier. 5.1).3 Fins Fins for scuba diving are usually much more rugged and have larger blades than those used for snorkeling or swimming. Divers with mustaches having difficulty achieving a mask seal may have to use some type of substance such as Vaseline® on their mustaches to achieve a proper seal. In addition. Divers who have an unusual prescription will need to order specially prepared lenses for their masks.2). The fins provide propulsion for divers who are heavily encumbered with equipment and make underwater swimming much easier. Many snorkels today are available with top mounted valves that help to keep water out of the snorkel while surface swimming.

The suits are designed to allow water to enter the area between the diver’s skin and the suit. one-piece suits. and allow more water to enter the suit. in Southern California. This thin layer of water is warmed up by the diver’s body and provides reasonable comfort at moderate temperatures. therefore. a one-piece suit. without booties.4). Some divers prefer a suit without a nylon lining and use a diluted solution of hair conditioner or talcum powder to make the neoprene surface slippery enough to slide easily over their skin. the open heel adjustable fin and the full-foot pocket fin (see Figures 5. the fin cannot be repaired. 5. One of the disadvantages to the full-foot fin is that when the foot pocket wears out. thicker suits and multiple layers of insulation become necessary. it can be replaced. divers usually wear a weight belt when wearing this type of thermal protection. they also increase the cost of the suit. are frequently used in the tropics. Most wet suits have a nylon exterior coating to help reduce abrasion to the rubber and a nylon interior to make it easier to don the suit. one millimeter up to seven millimeters.5). and stinging creatures such as jellyfish.6). Each of these factors is important. A cold water wet suit usually provides a double layer of insulation over the torso. In some cases where buoyancy is desirable. may be all that is necessary for most divers. During warm water dives where the diver will remain relatively inactive.7C). which provides insulation equivalent to a 2-millimeter suit without the same buoyant properties of a wet suit. the preferred wet suit is usually six or seven millimeters thick with a “farmer john” set of bib overalls and a jacket of the same material with an attached hood. wet suits made from rubber are recommended.2 Wet Suits Wet suits are made from foam neoprene. However.” Skins made from Lycra® provide good protection from the sun but do not provide any thermal protection. a wet suit or Polartec® skin. is recommended. The major advantage to this type of fin is that if the heel strap breaks. 5. Wet suits are very buoyant on the surface. divers may have to try several different types and sizes before finding the best set of fins for their use.2 THERMAL PROTECTION The type of thermal protection will be determined by the water temperature. They also come in numerous designs. and multi-piece suits. For this reason. The open heel adjustable fin is normally worn with neoprene booties (see Figure 5.5 Booties well for one diver may not work satisfactorily for another. 5. For example. and are generally referred to as “dive skins” or just “skins.1 Dive Skins There are many different types of thin suits available that provide sun protection as well as protection from coral cuts. personal physiology. including shorty suits. scrapes. a small female may be extremely uncomfortable. Wet suits come in a variety of thicknesses. have good stretch.FIGURE 5. a wet suit should fit snugly. but it is essential for the diver to pay attention to his own comfort level in the water. decrease reliability. allowing only a minimum of water inside the suit. While a large male may be comfortable in a six millimeter wet suit in 62°F water. a synthetic material with thousands of tiny closed cells that are filled with nitrogen gas (see Figure 5. above 80°F (26. The use of zippers in wet suits is a personal preference of the diver. There are also suits made from Lycra® combined with additional materials such as polyolefin microfibers which provide good wind resistance. While zippers make it easier to don a suit. While full-foot fins. For warm waters. Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-3 . As the water temperature drops. Ideally. Fins come in two styles. the diver’s work load. as the diver descends and the suit compresses at depth. two to three millimeters thick. they are rarely used in colder waters.2. and any contaminants that may be present in the water. Fins are made from either rubber or graphite and are available in different foot pocket sizes.4 Full-foot Fins 5. buoyancy FIGURE 5. Dive skins may be worn in tropical waters when the diver’s activity level is relatively high.3.2. These suits are form fitting.

Avoid hanging the suit in the sun to dry for long periods or for permanent storage. The cells of the material that provide the insulation for the wet suit begin to break down over time due to age and use. Dry suits can increase a diver’s bottom time dramatically. the water that has been trapped inside the wet suit normally leaks out. These undergarments trap a layer of air that provides primary protection against cold. 5. is critical to ensure long life and reliability. Between dives. for example. with one hour surface intervals between dives. and vulcanized rubber. but tends to develop leaks over time as cracks occur in the neoprene bubble layers and water migrates through the material (see Figure 5.1 Efficiency of Wet Suits vs. Dry suits are made from a variety of materials. store the suit in a cool.2. dark. the suit loses much of its insulation value.6C). including foam neoprene. is worn with cold water undergarments and is available with mating yokes to accommodate various diving helmets (see Figure 5. Heat and ultraviolet rays from the sun will deteriorate neoprene. attached boots. urethane-coated fabrics. in colder waters. It has good stretch and thermal characteristics.TABLE 5. Dry Suits Wetsuit 1st 2nd 3rd Dive Dive Dive 100% 100% 100% 100% 90% 80% 80% 70% 50% 50% 25% * * * * Drysuit 1st 2nd 3rd Dive Dive Dive 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 85% 75% 75% 55% Water Temperature 70OF 60OF 50OF 40OF 32OF Table is based upon 30-minute dives at 50 fsw. When purchasing a suit. and dry location.8). FIGURE 5. a dry suit is generally recommended (see Table 5. The suits are normally designed so that insulating undergarments may be worn beneath them.1). therefore. clean water and allowed to dry. The * indicates an exposure not recommended unless involved in a contingency situation.3 Dry Suits Dry suits are the most efficient form of passive thermal protection for the diver.2. tri-laminates. it is possible to dive in a wide variety of water temperatures. In addition. By varying the amount of underwear (insulation) worn underneath the dry suit. This causes a loss in body heat.7 Heavy Duty Suit Made of Vulcanized Rubber 5-4 NOAA Diving Manual . After each day of diving.1 Maintenance of Wet Suits Proper care of wet suits. divers wearing wet suits are subjected to evaporative cooling as the wind blows over their suit and the water on its surface vaporizes. FIGURE 5. Each type of material has advantages and disadvantages. since the diver’s body doesn’t need to “burn” as many calories to keep warm. When this happens.7). Dry suits are designed as one-piece suits with a waterproof zipper for entering the suit. Keeping the diver warm will enhance his performance and lower the risk of hypothermia. like all dive gear.6 Cold Water Wet Suit decreases and the diver must adjust for this change of buoyancy. Foam neoprene (wet suit material) is the least expensive type of dry suit. the diver should try the suit on with the thickest underwear he anticipates using to ensure a proper fit. 5.2. the suit must be thoroughly rinsed with fresh. Wet suits are most effective at water temperatures above 60°F (15. and seals at the diver’s wrists and neck. A heavy duty suit made of vulcanized rubber. crushed or compressed neoprene.

or reconnected. Also. Latex seals are the softest. The material is very flexible and reasonably rugged. it pushes the valve against the BC. Some dry suits come with or may be adapted for use with a cuff ring system that allows change of cuff rings. The disadvantages to this type of suit are its relatively heavy weight and higher cost. Different models of valves vent at different rates. wear.3. The advantage to urethane-coated nylon dry suits is low cost. 5. which is normally supplied from a small cylinder mounted on the thigh of the diver’s suit (Barsky et al.8 Foam Neoprene Dry Suit Crushed and compressed neoprene are rugged dry-suit materials that have good stretch and some inherent insulation. They are also relatively heavy suits when compared to TLS or urethane. Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-5 . Vulcanized rubber suits are preferred for diving in contaminated water because they are the easiest of all dry-suit types to decontaminate. For this reason. dry suits are designed with boots with either hard or soft soles. 1998). thinnest. seals. which causes it to continue to inflate.2 Dry-Suit Seals and Accessories Dry suits are equipped with seals at the wrists and neck. The hose must only be connected to a low-pressure port. This is the preferred arrangement to avoid getting water in the suit and for the most precise buoyancy control. etc. This is an extremely lightweight material originally developed for chemical warfare. The inflator hose must be equipped with a quick disconnect fitting so that the hose can be immediately released from the valve in the event the valve sticks in the open position. One disadvantage of vulcanized rubber suits is that they cannot be tailored to be as form fitting as crushed neoprene or TLS suits. Thicker latex seals last longer and are more reliable. even if the diver is wearing thick gloves or three-finger mitts. most flexible seals available and can be cut to fit the individual diver. However. The inflator valve is supplied with air from a low pressure hose that connects to the first stage of the diver’s regulator. When this type of system is used the inflator valve will usually be mounted on the thigh as well. and the use of dry gloves. Inflator valves must never be covered by the diver’s buoyancy compensator. Divers working in very cold water or using heliumoxygen gas mixtures sometimes use a suit inflation system that is independent of their breathing gas supply. As the suit inflates. which can make it difficult to access the valve and lead to runaway inflation accidents. Self-donning dry suits have the major advantage of allowing the diver to get in and out of the suit by himself. In these situations. 5.2. The exhaust valve must vent air faster than the inflator valve can supply it to the suit. The quick disconnect must be easy to operate so that it can be removed. latex seals are not as rugged as neoprene seals and are more prone to damage if mishandled. Long. Even the same models of valves will not always vent at the same rate due to differences in manufacturing tolerances. The disadvantage of a shoulder-entry suit is that it requires assistance to get in and out of the suit. maintenance. High-pressure breathing gas entering the hose will cause the hose to fail. but not nearly as much as crushed or compressed neoprene or foam neoprene. This can occur when the buoyancy compensator (BC) bladder pushes on the suit valve causing the valve to inflate the suit. A faster exhaust is better since it allows a diver to dump the air from his suit more quickly (Barsky. Again.2. divers should be conservative in using this type of system. NOTE Polluted-water diving requires specialized equipment and training (see Chapter 13 for more information). These seals can be either latex or neoprene. The most common location for the inflator valve is the middle of the diver’s chest. Vulcanized rubber dries quickly and is quick and easy to repair. TLS stands for tri-laminate suit. Urethane-coated nylon material is similar in appearance to TLS but not nearly as flexible nor as reliable. Latex seals can be ordered in different thicknesses. In areas with heavy smog.1 Dry-Suit Valves Most dry suits today have separate inflator and exhaust valves. The disadvantage is that self-donning suits are usually more expensive than a similar shoulder-entry suit. both types of suits have their advantages and disadvantages. The most common location for the exhaust valve is on the left arm on the outside although a chest mounted valve is not uncommon. the preferred suit inflation gas is argon. With a shoulder-entry suit the diver gets into the suit through the back by opening the waterproof zipper.3. The disadvantage of suits made from this material is that they don’t stretch. and Stinton 1996). but can be troublesome to don and remove. The two main styles of dry suits are shoulder-entry suits and self-donning suits. Vulcanized rubber material has some stretch. No empirical data exists on the effects of argon absorbed transdermally on a diver’s decompression obligation. latex seals usually only last about a year before they must be replaced due to rubber deterioration.FIGURE 5. The exhaust valve should be a low-profile valve that can be vented either automatically or manually during ascent.

never on the inside. Divers who are more heavily weighted with multiple cylinders may need to use the buoyancy compensator in conjunction with the suit under water. The seals. If no talcum powder is available.3. Polartec® is easy to don and the material has excellent stretch. For this reason. should be removed when donning neck and wrist seals to avoid damage to the seals. or with his work rate. and synthetic fleece. Not only would this cause the zipper to leak.2.3. Damage/wear to zipper teeth can be minimized by not twisting the zipper at angles oblique to the normal linear direction during donning and removing the suit. Dry-suit zippers should be lubricated with bee’s wax prior to closing. pressure-proof zipper is what made the modern dry suit possible. it may also cause the zipper to break. The buoyancy compensator is used primarily for surface flotation and as a back-up device in the event of a catastrophic dry-suit failure. The most heavy-duty zippers have individually pinned “teeth” which can be replaced if broken. 5. The negative side of neoprene seals is that they tend to leak more than latex seals. Proper donning of suit cuffs is absolutely critical to a dry dive. 5. The lubrication should only be applied to the outside of the zipper. Silicone spray works its way into the fabric of the suit. The air is also used to offset the effects of pressure to prevent suit squeeze. Do not use scented talcs which contain oils and can damage the seals. 5. The three most popular types of material used are Thinsulate®. The most important feature of Thinsulate® is that it is water resistant and maintains most of its insulating capabilities even when it is wet. dry-suit divers control their buoyancy under water by introducing air into the suit or buoyancy compensator. if a BC is worn. zippers. This must be considered as the diver makes changes in his insulation with the season. Just as a heavier latex seal is more reliable. making it difficult to get a good bond between the suit and replacement parts that must be glued to the suit when it is time to make repairs. These zippers are very similar to the zippers used in space suits. This may mean adding weight to the weight belt to compensate for the additional buoyancy. etc. Lighter weight zippers must be completely replaced when damaged. rings.3. but it does not maintain its insulation capabilities once it is wet.5 Dry-Suit Underwear Several different types of dry-suit underwear are available in different thicknesses. If the diver has perspired inside the suit. Paraffin wax may also be used and even a bar of soap can be used if no other lubricant is available. To control buoyancy upon ascent. As the diver varies his insulation. he will become positively buoyant. when traveling to another location with different conditions. and seals.6 Dry Suits and Dry-Suit Underwear Maintenance Dry suits require more maintenance than wet suits to ensure consistent performance. which can lead to a rapid ascent. They also do not stretch or breathe and are not as comfortable to wear as some other types of undergarments. it is not recommended for critical applications such as diving under the ice. including the valves.3 Dry-Suit Zippers The waterproof. which makes it easy to swim and move. The dry suit worn by the diver must never be used as a lifting device to lift heavy objects under water. Rapid ascents are dangerous and can cause lung over-pressure injuries and omitted decompression. the heavier the zipper the more rugged and damage resistant it will be. Synthetic fleeces are comfortable to wear but do not offer the insulating capabilities of either Thinsulate® or Polartec®. Controlling two independent flotation systems (the dry suit and the buoyancy compensator) at the same time is considered an advanced skill and requires additional training and practice. Thinner dry-suit underwear traps less air and requires less weight than thicker material. Under normal conditions. Undergarments made of Thinsulate® have more bulk than most other types of dry-suit underwear.. If the diver loses control of the object. Dry-suit divers should keep a thin layer of air in the suit at all times for thermal insulation. 5-6 NOAA Diving Manual . 5. Some manufacturers recommend the use of buoyancy compensators with dry suits. They also do not have the stretch capabilities of Polartec®. Special care must be taken to ensure that no dry-suit underwear. zipper. the exterior of the suit.3.2. Polartec® is another synthetic material that is widely used as dry-suit underwear. Jewelry. Neoprene seals are more rugged than latex seals and can last for several years. valves. or any other part of the suit.Both latex and neoprene seals should be dusted with pure talcum powder prior to donning.2. accidents have occurred when divers who were untrained have attempted to use them. must be rinsed thoroughly with fresh water. the air must be vented out of the suit as it expands. soapy water may be used as an alternative. or other foreign material is caught in the zipper when it is closed.2. Polartec®. his buoyancy will change. and suit itself must receive regular attention. the interior of the suit will need to be rinsed as well. The material has good insulation characteristics with very little bulk. Silicone spray should never be used to lubricate a drysuit zipper. At the end of each diving day. Thinsulate® is made from polyolefin microfibers.4 Dry-Suit Use All divers who use dry suits must be trained to use them properly. hair. Although dry suits are not difficult to use.

a hot-water hose that delivers heated water from the topside unit to the diver. 5. these systems will be equipped with a suction pump that will draw raw sea water from over the side and supply it to the heating system. too. as well as “Piggyback” units that draw their heat from the low-pressure air compressor that supplies the air for the surface-supplied diver. inflating the suit. The manufacturer for the hot-water system will normally provide charts that suggest the appropriate water temperature to supply to the diver based upon the flow rate. and the bottom temperature where the diver is working. Improper laundering can ruin some garments.. This will remove any body oils or other substances (i. The location and logistics of the site will usually determine which heating method is most practical. This mixing unit is normally located at the dive control station topside where the diving supervisor can monitor both temperature and water flow. The hot-water hose is a heavy. must be completely dry prior to storage. The hose connects to the diver’s suit with a quick disconnect fitting at a valve located on the suit at the waist. Several days prior to any dive the suit should be removed from storage and inspected to ensure it is in good condition for diving. Diesel and electrical powered units. insulated hose that is bundled into the diver’s umbilical. and this is usually the most reliable method for heating the water supply. Do not use a hanger. a mixing manifold. Hot-water suits are usually made from crushed neoprene or another non-compressible suit material.Check inside the suit for perspiration or moisture by reaching all the way down inside the suit to the boots. Aside from lubricating the zipper prior to every dive. and a special hot-water suit. in a cool.9 Hot-Water Suits available. The topside hot-water system can heat the water using a variety of different methods. Dry suits should be stored rolled up. In most cases. they will need to be replaced by an authorized repair facility. This hose may connect to a thinner hose three to four foot prior to its termination at the diver to provide greater flexibility and freedom of movement for the diver.4 Hot-Water Suits and Systems Hot-water suit systems are the most effective way of keeping a surface-supplied diver warm in cold water (see Figure 5. The suit should fit loosely. in a bag. dry place. the zipper should be cleaned regularly with soap and water and a toothbrush. When the seals begin to crack or appear sticky.9). such as hotwater heaters or electric motors. quarter-turn ball valve. This is done by plugging the seals.2. stains. A small shot of silicone spray should be applied to the opening of the nipple of the inflator valve and the valve should be operated several times. If the boots feel damp inside the suit. the length of hot-water hose in use. it may be possible to plumb the sea water intake on the surface heater directly into the ship’s raw water supply. The valve is normally a simple. the inside of the suit needs rinsing. are also available. The suit should be dried by hanging it to dry over a line or bar out of the sun. gasoline. The system consists of a surface heater. Dry suits should be leak-checked prior to initial use each year. Inside the suit. both inside and outside. the suit must be turned inside out to dry the interior. Divers must check the instructions supplied with the garment to determine proper laundry procedures. The valve must work smoothly and not stick. creosote) the suit may have been exposed to in the water which will cause the seals to deteriorate. away from sources of ozone. Dry-suit underwear needs to be laundered periodically to remove body oils. especially Thinsulate®. If the suit has been rinsed inside. The water supply to the diver is controlled using a mixing unit similar to that in a household fixture. On a large ship or barge. and dirt. The entire suit. steam is frequently FIGURE 5. This will help to remove corrosion from the zipper and keep it operating smoothly. but on a much larger scale. This hose will usually be the thickest hose in the umbilical.e. petroleum products. there are perforated tubes that run Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-7 . On a large ship. Latex seals need to be washed periodically with a diluted solution of dishwashing soap and water. and brushing it with a diluted soap solution.

The shorty suit serves several important purposes. reduces the high pressure to an intermediate pressure that is usually about 140 psi over ambient pressure (see Figure 5.2.3 OPEN CIRCUIT SCUBA REGULATORS The function of the open circuit scuba regulator is to reduce the high-pressure breathing gas supplied by the scuba cylinder to the ambient pressure at the diver. and sometimes around the face. since most surface-supplied diving outfits do not include a buoyancy compensator.2.1 Gloves Gloves are worn by most divers to protect the hands from cuts in warm water and for thermal protection in cold water (see Figure 5.5. and use skin-in neoprene around the neck. Generally speaking. There are also dry hoods made out of neoprene or latex that can be attached directly to the dry suit. legs. They generally do not seal against beards. When the diver is not inhaling. FIGURE 5. wearing a shorty suit can help prevent fungal infections being passed from diver to diver. Equalization requires allowing water to enter the hood and fill the outer ear canal. it provides some buoyancy. The first stage of the regulator.11).10 Protective Diving Glove gloves are normally made from foam neoprene. The same requirement can be achieved by allowing air from a full-face mask to flow into the hood and thus. It is recommended that the diver wear a thin (two–three mm) shorty wet suit under the hot-water suit. back. Gloves are made in a variety of styles and from different materials. These hoods usually have a short neck. however. and works well in extremely cold environments. an insulating skull cap made of fleece may be worn under the hood) • May be permanently attached to suit • May have a one-way valve at the very top to allow air to escape (otherwise it will balloon-up) Regardless of the type of hood worn. The two most common designs for first stages are the piston and diaphragm models. Three-finger gloves may be worn in colder waters to provide better thermal protection (see Figure 5. Cold-water FIGURE 5. while others may be equipped with this option after purchase. Second. divers must be able to equalize pressure in their outer ears to avoid an ear squeeze. to provide a good seal against water intrusion. Standard neoprene wet-suit hoods can be used with some dry suits.10). 5. Some regulators are supplied from the factory this way. The latex hood uses an insulated liner.2 Hoods A hood is required if the water is cold enough to warrant.2. wrists.12). and through the zipper. and arms. 5. which attaches to the cylinder valve. a more preferred hood is one made especially to seal against the neck seal of the dry suit. The water exits the suit at the ankles. reach the outer ear canal and ultimately the ear drum. Finally. neck. First. 5.5. The hot water continuously flushes through the suit. no gas flows through the regulator.down the diver’s chest. The open circuit regulator in use today is known as a “demand regulator” because it only supplies air when the diver inhales or “demands” it. This intermediate pressure fills the low-pressure hose which connects the first stage and the second stage. The first stage of the regulator may be environmentally sealed to help keep contaminants out and prevent freeze-up during ice diving operations. the shorty suit will provide some protection from burns. The second stage reduces the intermediate pressure to ambient pressure. balanced regulators offer higher performance than unbalanced models and are the most common design found today. if several divers are sharing the same suit. First stages may be produced in either of two configurations: “balanced” or “unbalanced” models. Hot water is distributed throughout the suit by these tubes. Their features include: • Neoprene or rubber (if rubber.5 Suit Accessories 5. or on people with very thin faces.11 Examples of Three-Finger Foam Neoprene Gloves 5-8 NOAA Diving Manual . This is accomplished in two steps. in the event that the mixing valve fails and scalding hot water is accidentally sent to the diver.

Some first stage regulators are equipped with swivels that will permit the hoses to turn to help achieve a better angle for hose routing (see Figure 5.” The DIN connection for regulators and valves is a more reliable connection than the more common yoke fitting and FIGURE 5.500 psi.” which is a European association of engineers and manufacturers that sets standards for compressed gas cylinders and valves. The principle behind the DIN fittings is known as a “captured O-ring” because once the regulator is screwed into the valve. These may include an additional second stage hose. ice diving. a low-pressure hose for a dry suit. the first stage will have enough ports so that the optimal routing for each hose can be achieved.FIGURE 5. Valves manufactured to these standards are known as “DIN fittings” or “DIN valves. Sharp bends or kinks in hoses must be avoided to prevent gas flow restrictions and premature hose failures. Yoke connectors are intended for high-pressure service not to exceed 3. Ideally.13 DIN System Threaded Valve Body FIGURE 5.13).and low-pressure ports to allow attachment of all of the accessories the diver will need (see Figure 5. and “virtual” overhead environments. This is a desirable feature FIGURE 5.14).15). DIN is an acronym which stands for “Deutsches Institut fuer Normung.12 First Stage of the Regulator The types of cylinder connections available are the traditional yoke connection and the European DIN connection. it is almost impossible for an O-ring failure to cause a loss of breathing gas. DIN connections are used for cylinders and regulators that operate at pressures up to 4. With a DIN regulator and valve system. (see Figure 5. DIN fittings are preferred for all overhead environment dives such as wreck penetrations. a low-pressure inflator for a buoyancy compensator.15 Hose Swivels Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-9 .14 Open High-Pressure (HP) and Low-Pressure (LP) Ports is designed to work at higher pressures. such as decompression diving (Palmer 1994). the first stage actually threads into the valve body. For this reason.000 psi. The first stage of the regulator must be equipped with a sufficient number of high. and a high-pressure hose for a submersible pressure gauge. cave diving.

18). When the diver exhales. this action pushes directly on the diaphragm which activates the lever and allows gas to flow through the second stage as long as the button is pushed. Downstream valves tend to be more common and are usually simpler than pilot valves (see Figure 5. which causes the diaphragm to depress.17). Regulators can be equipped with an additional second stage. known as an “octopus” rig that can be used to supply air to an out-of-air diver in an emergency (see Figure 5. the diaphragm moves away from the diver’s mouth and the exhaled gas exits the second stage through the exhaust valve. the demand lever opens the pilot valve first. Pilot valve second stages and more traditional designs may have diver-operated adjustments that are designed to enhance breathing.16 Cutaway of Second Stage Regulator for divers who have many accessories connected to their regulators. some regulators are equipped with adjustment knobs that can be set to make breathing easier at depth (see Figure 5. or if the regulator is out of adjustment. The second stage regulator includes the mouthpiece and purge button (see Figure 5. pilot valve second stages may be equipped with a “predive” and “dive” switch that changes the breathing characteristics to prevent air loss while surface swimming on snorkel when the regulator is not in use. When the diver inhales. In many cases. These designs are recommended for divers who regularly conduct work under the ice. If sand or other debris has accumulated in the second stage. which promotes higher gas flows. moving towards the diver’s mouth and actuating a lever. The venturi increases gas velocity and lowers pressure making breathing easier. If the diver depresses the purge button to expel water from the second stage. The lever opens the valve that allows air to pass into the second stage and supply air to the diver. a lower pressure inside the second stage is created. The pilot valve then opens the larger main valve that provides the breathing gas. Some second stages have also been engineered for ice diving operations and have special vanes or other devices in them to capture the heat from the diver’s exhaled breath to help prevent freeze-up. the regulator may vent gas vigorously on its own. In a pilot valve regulator.19). To achieve higher performance. Pilot valve regulators offer high performance but tend to be more expensive than downstream designs.” Most regulator second stages today are either downstream valves or pilot valves. Similarly.17 Downstream Second Stage 5-10 NOAA Diving Manual . This loss of gas is commonly referred to as a “free flow.Mouthpiece Purge Button FIGURE 5. the regulator may be equipped with a “venturi” mechanism. Most pilot valve regulators are extremely compact and lightweight.16). This system eliminates the need for two divers to share a single mouthpiece and is usually compact and Pilot Valve Tilt-Valve Assembly Main Valve Poppett Assembly Demand Lever Pilot Valve Orifice Air to Diver Diaphragm Spring Valve Seal Air to Diver Main Valve Opening Pilot Chamber Air to Diver Air from First Stage Pilot Valve Mechanism Air from First Stage FIGURE 5.

In its natural state at sea level pressure. Special compact systems are available with integrated regulators that have been designed for this purpose. argon.21).5 COMPRESSED AIR Compressed air is the most frequently used diver’s breathing medium. test breathing. it is essential to avoid pressing the purge button on the second stage while rinsing. oxygen. clean water at the end of each day of diving. Regulators that are used daily will need to be inspected and serviced more frequently. ft. Prior to each dive. and both inside and outside of the second stage. In the event that it is not possible to rinse the regulator while it is connected and pressurized. Pressing the purge button will also allow water to flow back through the hose and enter the first stage. if the regulator is not connected. it may be rinsed with the dust cap in place over the high-pressure filter on the first stage. mouthpieces.1 Maintenance All regulators should be rinsed promptly with fresh.3.21 A Bail-Out Cylinder Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-11 .18 Adjustment Knob to Ease DiverÕs Breathing helps to streamline the diver. The preferred method of performing this task is to have the regulator connected to the cylinder with the pressure on. The additional second hose with the second stage can be purchased in a right or left configuration. Another option is to carry a small (usually 13 cu.” 5. This allows the second hose to be positioned under either the diver’s left or right arm.19 Octopus Regulators FIGURE 5. NOAA requires that all their scuba regulators be inspected and serviced by an authorized repair technician annually (see Figure 5.) “bail-out” cylinder with its own regulator (see Figure 5. some divers prefer to carry an independent breathing gas supply. Failure to secure the dust cap in position prior to rinsing will allow water to enter the first stage which can lead to corrosion. the hose. as often as every quarter. Similarly. depending on the environment and care. compressed air consists of nitrogen.20 NOAA Technician Inspecting and Repairing Regulators 5. The size of the cylinder should be determined by the distance and/or time that separates the diver from a direct access to the surface. hoses. complete with its own regulator. leaks. etc. particularly after exposure to salt water.4 EMERGENCY AIR SUPPLY To cope with a complete loss of breathing gas. carbon FIGURE 5. 5. the diver should routinely do a predive inspection of regulator. FIGURE 5.FIGURE 5. Water should be directed over the first stage. The cylinder may also be referred to as a “pony bottle” or “reserve gas breathing supply.20).

Some effective methods of preventing the intake of contaminated air are discussed below. dirt. Table 5. and suitable for breathing.. inspection. impaired cooling water circulation. If a cylinder valve is suspected of having a thread or seal leak. it should be completely discharged before any attempt is made to repair the leak.dioxide. in urban areas the carbon monoxide concentration in the air may be high. sulfur. and the local EPA office should be consulted before a diving operation is undertaken in an area suspected of having high pollutant levels. free of oil contaminants. because the boot alone does not provide sufficient protection against falling. All ambient air does not meet the standards of purity necessary for use as a diver’s breathing medium.1 General Safety Precautions There are three primary safety concerns associated with the use of compressed air or any compressed gas: • Gas is sufficiently pure and appropriate for its intended use • Compressed gas cylinders or storage cylinders are properly labeled and handled • Cylinders are protected from fire and other hazards Compressed air is available from many sources. fuel. by loss of cooling air flow caused by debris. 5.01%). however. fumes or vapors from stored chemicals. This is particularly true if the compressor’s interstage coolers are not functioning properly. or lint getting into the radiator fins. It should be labeled “breathing air. including lubricating oil and its vapor. Cylinders can become deadly projectiles capable of penetrating a wall. oxides. Compressed gas cylinders can be extremely hazardous if mishandled and should be stored securely in a rack. and in some cases it may reach a concentration of 50-100 parts per million (ppm) (. After the leak has been repaired. it is essential that the gas is of high purity. scuba cylinders generally are not color-coded or labeled as 5-12 NOAA Diving Manual . These contaminants derive from industrial sources and engine exhausts and must be avoided in the breathing air supplied to a diver. preferably in the upright position. WARNING DO NOT STAND IN THE LINE OF DISCHARGE WHEN OPENING A HIGH-PRESSURE CYLINDER. the temperature of the gas being compressed can be high enough at each successive stage to cause pyrolytic decomposition of any hydrocarbon compounds present. into the breathing medium. Compressed gas cylinders are protected against excessive overpressure by a rupture disk on the cylinder valve. These boots fit over the base of the cylinder and help to keep the cylinder in an upright position. the soap solution used for leak detection must be removed completely with fresh water and the valve dried carefully before reassembly. However. For example. not of the purity necessary for use as a diver’s breathing medium. material. In addition to airborne pollutants.005 . When compressed air is purchased from a manufacturer. Proper identification and careful handling of compressed gas cylinders are essential to safety. or. Most of it. Intercooler malfunction can be caused by excessive condensate. These regulations include design. and other impurities. the air compressor machinery and storage system themselves may introduce contaminants.5. Additionally. is produced for industrial purposes and is. it is important to stand to the side rather than in the line of discharge to avoid the blast effect in case of failure. Ambient air may also contain dust. The free air intake of the compressor must be located to draw air from an area where there are no contaminants. and they can propel themselves at great speeds over long distances. and marking requirements. NOTE Cylinder boots should be removed frequently and the cylinder checked for evidence of corrosion.” Compressed air suspected of being contaminated should not be used for diving until tested and found safe. Scuba cylinders are often fitted with a rubber or plastic boot that has holes in it to permit draining. Compressed gas cylinders used to transport gas under pressure are subject to Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. cylinders should be secured from rolling. or paint. No compressor should be allowed to operate with its intake or first-stage suction blocked because this will produce a vacuum within the cylinders that can rapidly draw lubricating oil or oil vapor from the compressor crankcase into the air system. Because regulators or gauges may fail when a cylinder valve is opened to check the cylinder pressure. When in transit. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors ozone and other oxidants in metropolitan areas. Scuba cylinders should not be filled from an ambient air source when an air pollution alert is in effect. therefore. Even small leaks will be obvious because they will cause a froth of bubbles to form. Leaks can sometimes be detected by painting a 20 percent detergent soap solution (called “Snoop®”) over the external parts of the valve with a brush. cylinders equipped with such boots should not be left unsecured in an upright position.2 shows the natural composition of air and purity standards. Standing an unsecured cylinder on end or allowing it to roll unsecured could result in the explosive rupture of the cylinder. and trace amounts of other gases. With the exception of scuba cylinders used for nitrox. in the case of air radiator coolers. and excess moisture. Potential contaminants include engine or ventilation exhaust.

000 25 ppm -65¡F 5 Not Specified 10 None 1.5 20-22 19.5 Percent Oxygen Balance Predominantly Nitrogen 63 ppm -50ºF 5 Not Specified 10 None 1.1-1997 OGA COMMODITY SPEC.5 Diver and Diving Support Equipment 25 ppm -65¡F 5 5 10 None 1.TABLE 5.5-23. PAR 5-3.000 1.1-1997 LIMITING CHARACTERISTICS GRADE D & L 19.5-23.7 NFPA 1500 19.5 GRADE D GRADE D & -50ºF DEWPOINT PADI PURE AIR PROGRAM US NAVY DIVERÕS AIR SAMPLING TEXAS COMMISSION ON FIRE PROTECTION 19.5 TEXAS COMMISSION ON FIRE PROTECTION CHAPTER 435 FIREFIGHTER SAFETY OGA COMMODITY SPEC. FOR AIR ANSI/OGA G-7.000 -65ºF Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified 24 ppm Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified 19. FOR AIR ANSI/OGA G-7. 1996 EDITION FIRE DEPARTMENT OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH PROGRAM PAGE 1500-16. FOR AIR ANSI/OGA G-7.000 Total Volatile Hydrocarbons (less methane) ppm Not Specified Nitrogen Dioxide ppm Not Specified Nitric Oxide ppm Not Specified Sulfur Dioxide ppm Not Specified Halogenated Solvents ppm Not Specified Frequency Required (Times per year) Not Specified TRIÕs Air Standard Code 02 Typical Uses Manufacturing Firefighting 5-13 .5-23.1-1997 OGA COMMODITY SPEC.000 Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified 71 or 72 68 Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified 06 5 Not Specified Not Specified 27 Not Specified Not Specified 25 Not Specified 25 Not Specified 25 Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified x2 NOL x4 OL 01 25 Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified x4 05 Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified x4 15 Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified x2 20 Manufacturing Diving Manufacturing Firefighting Airline Respirators Hospital Manufacturing Diving Diving Firefighting HAZ-MAT Firefighting HAZ-MAT Water.1-1997 OGA COMMODITY SPEC. FOR AIR ANSI/OGA G-7. FOR AIR ANSI/OGA G-7.2 Air Purity Standards OGA COMMODITY SPEC.000 500 None None None None 1.5-23.1-1997 NAVSEA 0994-001-9010 US NAVY DIVING MANUAL APPENDIX N TABLE E N-1 NAUMED P-5112 PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DIVING INSTRUCTORS NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION NFPA 1500.5 20-22 20-22 GRADE E GRADE N 19.5-23.000 10 10 10 20 Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified Not Specified 5 5 None 5 5 Not Specified 10 None 1. ppm Not Specified Dewpoint (degrees ºF) Not Specified Oil (condensed) (mg/m3 at NTP) 5 Particulates mg/m3 Not Specified Carbon Monoxide ppm 10 Odor None Carbon Dioxide ppm 1.5-23.000 1.

to type of gas contained. Using cylinders as the gas source reduces the chance of losing the primary supply. Air compressors commonly used to provide divers breathing air may be classified in the following groups: • Low-Pressure. there is a concurrent rise in the number and variety of air compressors being used to supply breathing air. High Volume Air Compressors: These compressors are most often used to support surface-supplied diving operations or to supply hyperbaric chambers.000 psig. not be used or stored in an area where open flames. The accumulator will provide a limited emergency supply of air if the compressor fails. therefore. large gas cylinders may be color-coded and labeled. high-volume. Most lockout submersibles carry the divers’ gas supply in high-pressure cylinders incorporated into the system. There are two main types of compressors: high-pressure. Although not in itself flammable.6 AIR COMPRESSORS AND FILTERING SYSTEMS Air compressors are the most common source of diver’s breathing air. Compressed gas cylinders are also generally mounted on the exteriors of underwater habitats. or electric motor). for use in filling scuba cylinders. Low Volume Air Compressors: These compressors are used for filling scuba cylinders and high-pressure air storage systems. Several special safety precautions to be observed when using compressed gas are noted on the label of gas cylinders. The label should be used to identify the contents of a gas cylinder. To ensure proper maintenance and care. and diving bells to provide a backup gas supply in case of emergency. compressed air does support combustion and should. inch gauge. these precautions concern the flammability of the gas and its ability to support combustion. filter assembly. Large. WARNING BECAUSE COLORS VARY AMONG MANUFACTURERS. gasoline engine. The compressor used for umbilical diving is generally backed up by a bank of high-pressure gas storage cylinders to reduce the possibility of interrupting the diver’s breathing gas supply because of loss of power or compressor malfunction. As the number of scientific and recreational divers increases. or flammable gases are present. Divers using the habitat as a base can refill their scuba cylinders from these mounted cylinders. as well as umbilical length and diameter. or scfm) that can be delivered at that pressure. because color-coding is not standardized. used for umbilical diving.” depending on whether or not they require lubrication of their compression cylinders. The safest way to verify gas content is via an analyzer. These units may be either permanently installed or portable. depending on the type of cylinder). They are generally found at sites where large-scale diving operations are being conducted or aboard surface platforms outfitted for diving. some of the oil may come into direct contact with the air being compressed. These compressors are further classified as “oil-lubricated” or “non-oil-lubricated. To be effective. The most commonly used type in the diving industry is the reciprocating. The lubricants used 5. and low-pressure. or piston-in-cylinder type. or psig) they can deliver and the output volume (measured in standard cubic feet per minute. Portable units used for filling scuba cylinders are commonly available with a volumetric capacity of two to six scfm at a discharge pressure adequate to fully charge the cylinders (2. the oil in the crankcase assembly also lubricates the pistons and cylinder walls. and reciprocating. submersibles. In an oil-lubricated compressor. Operators should become thoroughly familiar with the requirements associated with the production of breathing air. Many types of compressors are available: centrifugal. both the output volume and pressure must be equal to or exceed the requirements of the system they supply. Air compressors are generally rated by two parameters: the maximum pressure (measured in pounds per square 5-14 NOAA Diving Manual . When evaluating compressor capacity. however.250 or 3. axial flow. Units commonly used have output volumes of between 50 and 200 scfm at maximum discharge pressures of between 150 and 300 psig. Any air compressor used for a diver’s surface-supplied system must have an accumulator (volume cylinder) as an integral part of the system. A compressor is rated at the pressure at which it will unload or at which the unloading switches will activate. A compressor must have the output volume to provide a sufficient quantity of breathing medium and to provide pressure above the range equivalent to the ambient pressure the diver will experience at depth. hot work. In general. • High-Pressure. Portable units are generally built into a skid assembly along with a power source (diesel engine. THE CONTENT OF LARGE CYLINDERS SHOULD ALWAYS BE IDENTIFIED BY LABELSÑDO NOT RELY ON CYLINDER COLOR. high-pressure cylinders are advantageous to use as a source of breathing gas when there is convenient access to a high-pressure compressor for recharging. low-volume. the difference over bottom pressure and volume requirements of different types of underwater breathing apparatus and/or helmets must be considered. since the entire volume of gas needed for a dive is compressed and stored before the dive. and a rack for storing divers’ umbilical assemblies. rotary screw. As a result. organizations using compressors should assign the responsibility for the operation of compressors to a specific individual. distribution manifold for divers’ air. volume tank.

or near a diving installation. this factor is called volumetric efficiency. Since it removes harmful contaminants by causing them to adhere to its surface. however.250 psi. Compressors should not be operated near the exhausts of internal combustion engines. which acts much like a molecular sieve. An aspect of this process that is not widely understood is that the carbon monoxide oxidation process releases substantial quantities of heat. or odors. The mechanical connections between the pumping chambers and the crankcase on truly oil-free machines are carefully designed to prevent the migration of crankcase oil into the pumping chambers. Some efficiency (approximately ten percent) is lost because of the volume of the intercoolers and residual cylinder volumes. the air is taken from ambient pressure to approximately 2. In addition to Hopcalite®. It is important for the diver to inspect the filling station to ensure that proper safety precautions are being observed and that federal. Figure 5. Several types of filtration systems are available. the location of the compressor intake with respect to possible sources of contamination is an important factor in ensuring satisfactory air quality.22 is a schematic of the processing of air from the intake to the Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-15 . To do this. oil vapors. substances known as molecular sieves are often used. it is necessary to place them in the filtration system in a specific order. including carbon dioxide and most odors. and. The amount of carbon dioxide produced by the catalytic action is so small as to be physiologically insignificant. Intakes must be provided with filters for removing dust and other particles. To use most filtration agents properly. Compressors typically use a ratio of 6:1. However. Hopcalite® section for carbon monoxide removal The Hopcalite® oxidizes the carbon monoxide to carbon dioxide. With appropriate periodic regeneration processes. Air from an oil-lubricated compressor must be carefully filtered to remove any possible oil mist. since Hopcalite® is quickly “poisoned” and rendered ineffective by excessive water vapor. the most effective way to remove hydrocarbons and odors is still with the use of activated carbon.in machines that provide breathing air must be of the quality specified for breathing air and be so designated by the equipment manufacturer. some manufacturers describe their machines as oil-free. electric arcs. One lubricant should not be substituted for another unless the manufacturer’s directions so specify. In a typical three-stage compressor. and other contaminants removable by adsorption 3. non-synthetics. the sieve itself remains inert and virtually unchanged physically during the purification process. although this may vary with different makes and models of compressors. usually located in a dive shop. No matter what technique is employed. hydrocarbons.5 parts of oxygen per million parts of carbon monoxide. nitrogen dioxide. The all-purpose crankcase lubricant recommended by the manufacturer can usually be used for oil-free compressors. the pumping chambers in oil-free machines are designed to run either with water lubrication or with no lubrication at all using teflon rings on the pistons. The lifetime of this system is usually determined by the lifetime of the dessicant. Oil-free compressors usually employ a standard oillubricated crankcase assembly similar to that of oil-lubricated machines. sandblasting or painting operations. Plastic containers of volatile liquids can give off fumes even when they are tightly closed and thus should be kept clear of compressor intakes. sewer manholes. the direction of the air flow through the filter system must be known. Like other high-pressure components. If a Hopcalite® filter becomes extremely hot or shows signs of discoloration. but these machines are not widely used in operational diving. on board ship. Air from an oilfree compressor does not generally require any further treatment unless the application requires that it be further dried or there is concern about possible contamination of the intake air. Dessicant section to remove water vapor. which are used in the sequence shown: 1. Coalescing section to remove oil mist 2. The compressors used to provide breathing air in hospitals are of the oil-free type. Proper orientation to wind direction is also critical in setting up air compressor systems. state. For this reason. or sources of smoke. possible by-products from oil oxidation in the compressor (predominantly carbon monoxide). A molecular sieve is a material having an extremely large surface area to enhance its capacity for adsorption. For purposes of dehydration and adsorption. or phosphate esters (either pure or in a mixture) should never be used. the use of activated alumina in combination with Multi-sorb® is also widespread. Another popular filtration system involves the following components. Air leaving a compressor must be cooled and passed through an air/liquid separator to remove any condensed water and oil vapors before storage or immediate use. and local regulations are being followed. most molecular sieves are capable of removing a wide range of contaminants. Intercoolers cool the air before further recompression and cause water and oil vapor to condense and collect as the air passes through the air/liquid separator at the discharge end of the intercooler. Activated charcoal section for removal of residual odors and tastes 4. if there is any doubt. it should be checked. the compressor output air should be checked for elevated carbon monoxide levels. Hopcalite® is a true catalyst in this reaction and is neither consumed nor exhausted in the process. which has no appreciable effect on the air produced. filter canisters should be inspected visually for corrosion damage (High 1987). Each succeeding cylinder is proportionately smaller in volume than the previous one. The final step in the production of pure air is the filling station. The separator is fitted with a drain valve that must be opened periodically to drain accumulated liquids. Chlorinated lubricants. The amount of oxygen consumed is approximately 0. even though the breakdown of such compressors could still result in oily breathing air.

Although carbon monoxide analysis.Air Intake Priority Back Pressure Pressure Gauge Valve Auto Air Distribution Panel Check Valve Isolation Valve High Pressure Air Booster Relief Valve Magnetic Starter & Hour Meter Final Moisture Separator Pressure Switch Bleed Valve Chemical Filters Check Valve Moisture Separator Auto Condensate Dump Compressor Low Oil Level Switch High Pressure Lines Electrical Lines Air Storage Cylinders Auto Air Fill Panel Filler Valves for Scuba Cylinders FIGURE 5.22 includes a high-pressure booster pump. (Note that the system depicted in Figure 5. These cylinder banks are fitted with specific valves according to the type of gas contained and may be used to provide breathing air in surface-supplied diving operations and for filling scuba cylinders. A log should be kept for each compressor. it is not a substitute for accurate analysis by a reputable testing laboratory. therefore.22 Schematic of the Production of DiverÕs Breathing Air scuba cylinder. by far the most important test to be conducted on diver’s breathing gas. can be performed in the field using colorimetric tubes. 5. A cylinder head temperature controller is valuable in eliminating the possibility of excessive cylinder temperatures. based on the manufacturer’s recommendations or the results of an air analysis. and air analysis information. The log should record all time in service.1 Maintenance Both the compressor and filter system must be maintained properly. 5. The human body has a zero tolerance for aldehydes. The compressor lubricant and mechanical parts should be replaced on a rigorous schedule.2 Carbon Monoxide Monitoring Device Deadly aldehydes can create false positive readings for carbon monoxide.6.) For some diving operations. air is supplied by the manufacturer in banks of high-pressure cylinders. Analysis of the output air from compressor systems should be performed twice a year. should be examined and replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications. Filters have a recommended shelf life and. Cylinder heads may be cooled by air blowers or water spray systems or by cooling systems integral to the compressor machinery.6. When running. Compressors and filters are usually given routine maintenance on either an hours-of-operation or time basis. maintenance. 5-16 NOAA Diving Manual . Particular attention should be paid to draining the inter-stage and final-stage separators. Oil mist analysis is difficult to perform and requires careful collection techniques as well as qualified laboratory analysis of the samples. which can increase the efficiency of cylinder filling operations by providing air at the filling station at a pressure above that of the air storage cylinder. and they have been proven to cause cancer in laboratory animals. the compressor must be cooled adequately. because the primary factor causing the breakdown of lubricants and contamination of the compressed air is high temperature in the compressor cylinder. They are also associated with leukemia in human beings.

In response to environmental concerns, refineries have reformulated common gasoline; the emission from engine exhaust contains aldehydes from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Aldehydes and all single-carbon units like hydrogen, formic acid, formaldehydes, and methanol will identify as carbon monoxide on a monitoring device. Whereas carbon monoxide tends to settle out on the ground, aldehydes migrate upward and can contaminate intakes in close proximity of a combustible type engine. Therefore, in the placement of compressor intakes, lateral distance from the compressor exhaust fumes, or any other combustible type engine, is now more critical than vertical distance. 5.6.3 Lubricants Oil-lubricated compressors have a small amount of oil on the interior of the cylinder’s walls which mixes with the air being compressed. This oil is filtered out by the compressor’s filtering system. Because an improperly functioning filter can raise temperatures sufficiently to decompose or ignite the oil, it is important to carefully select oil to be used as a lubricant. The oil’s flashpoint (the temperature of the liquid oil at which sufficient vapors are given off to produce a flash when a flame is applied) and auto-ignition point (the temperature at which the oil, when mixed with air, will burn without an ignition source) are both important considerations. The most desirable compressor lubricants have higher-than-average flashpoints and low volatility. The oils recommended by the manufacturer of the compressor are generally the safest and most efficient lubricants for this equipment. 5.6.4 Duties and Responsibilities All divers have a considerable responsibility for scuba cylinder safety. Approximately 90 percent of all cylinder explosions occur during the fill process. Fill station operators must have federally mandated hazardous materials (HAZ-MAT) training and re-training every three years (4.9 CFR 172.700). In addition, OSHA requires all cylinders to be inspected (29 CFR 1910.101 (A) ). The fill station itself should be made safe by incorporating whatever protective materials or procedures that can reasonably be incorporated into the system. While not all of the following items are relevant to every fill station, one should consider: • Placing the fill station away from work areas • Consulting with an engineer before constructing a cylinder diversion device • Configuring controls away from the cylinder fill area • Securing high-pressure hoses and fittings at close intervals • Keeping the fill station away from critical building structural support and walls and providing a physical barrier between fill station operator and cylinder during fill

• Using an energy deflector to send explosive force in a safe direction • Regularly inspecting compressor filters and piping • Allowing only trained, authorized persons to work at the fill station • Posting operating procedures and safety instructions • Having schematic diagrams of all system components including proper labeling of all valves, gauges, etc. A pre-fill visual inspection determines if the cylinder appears to be safe and meets legal requirements. Whenever a problem is noted, the cylinder should be set aside for a formal inspection by a trained technician.

Scuba cylinders contain the compressed breathing gas to be used by a diver. Most cylinders for diving are of steel or aluminum alloy construction, specially designed and manufactured to contain compressed air safely at service pressures usually from 2,250 to 3,500 psig or greater. 5.7.1 Cylinder Markings Regardless of cylinder type, data describing the cylinder must be clearly stamped into the shoulder of the cylinder. Scuba cylinders must be manufactured in accordance with the precise specifications dictated by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) (until 1970), thereafter by the DOT, and most recently reflected on aluminum cylinders as TC/DOT, which indicates equivalency with requirements of the Transport Canada (High 1987). Regulatory changes in the more than 35 years since scuba cylinders entered service in the United States have produced a variety of code markings. Typically, steel cylinders carry the code DOT (or ICC), 3AA (steel type), and a service pressure of 2,250 psig (158 kg/cm2) or higher on the first line. These marks are followed by the serial number, cylinder manufacturer’s symbol (before 1982, the symbol of the user or equipment distributor), the original hydrostatic test date with testor’s symbol, and a plus (+) mark, which indicates that a ten percent fill over-service-pressure is allowed for the five-year period of the original hydrostatic test. Additional hydrostatic test dates, with the testor’s codes, will be added on successful retest at required five-year or shorter intervals. However, since hydrostatic test facilities rarely retest scuba cylinders appropriately to permit inclusion of the plus mark (+) for continued ten percent overfill, few steel cylinders are filled in excess of the designated service pressure after the initial period. Figure 5.23 shows steel scuba cylinder markings. The Pressed Steel Tank Company (PST) produces cylinders in several volumes under the DOT exemption E9791 having a service pressure of 3,500 psig. Japanese cylinders sold by ASAHI were introduced in the U.S. in 1999. Those cylinders have the DOT authorization number E. Aluminum alloy scuba cylinders entered U.S. commercial service in 1971 and are code-marked in a somewhat different manner than steel cylinders. Initially, DOT issued

Diver and Diving Support Equipment


Steel Alloy Specification Initial Hydrostatic Test Company Agency Responsible for Standard

Aluminum Alloy Specification Service Pressure

Serial Number

DOT Ð 3AA 2250 (ICC) (3A) PST (DACOR) 073440 L 4 C 83 +
Manufacturer Manufacturer Symbol PST K or WK or WK&Co. Manufacturer Official Mark Manufacturer Inspection Service



Serial Number

Cylinder Volume (CTC/DOT) 3AL 3000 S80 (DOT) (SP6498) (Omitted) E6498 First Hydrostatic Test and Company P71841 Luxfer 2 85 Mark ( 5 81)

Manufacturer Manufacturer Symbol Manufacturer Official Mark Manufacturer Inspection Service Industrial Analysis

NOTE: There are three major manufacturers of steel scuba cylinders in the United States. Their names and symbols are shown below

Alcan Aluminum

Pressed Steel Walter Kidde

Industrial Analysis


T. H. Cochrane Laboratory Arrowhead Industrial Service or Hunt Inspection

K or WK or WK&Co.

T. H. Cochrane Laboratory

Initial Test Showing Tester's Mark, with Manufacturer's Mark Separating Test Month and Year

Walter Kidde

Norris Industries



Norris Industries




Arrowhead Industrial Service or Hunt Inspection

Steel Cylinder Markings

Aluminum Cylinder Markings

FIGURE 5.23 Cylinder Markings

special permits or exemptions for the manufacture of aluminum cylinders. These are indicated in some code markings as SP6498 or E6498, followed by the service pressure, which typically ranges from 2,475 to 3,000 psi (174 to 211 kg/cm2). No plus (+) or overfill allowance is used with aluminum alloy cylinders. Since 1982, aluminum cylinders reflect DOT and TC equivalency, the material designation (3AL), the service pressure, and a mark indicating volume and that the cylinder is intended for scuba service (S80), as shown in Figure 5.23. NOTE Aluminum alloy cylinders should never be filled in excess of marked service pressure, and steel cylinders without a plus (+) after the current hydrostatic test date should also not be filled over their marked service pressure. The internal volume of a cylinder is a function of its physical dimensions and may be expressed in cubic inches or cubic feet. Of more interest is the capacity of the cylinder, which is the quantity of gas at surface pressure that can be compressed into the cylinder at its rated pressure. The capacity usually is expressed in standard cubic feet or standard liters of gas. Cylinders of various capacities are commercially available. Steel scuba cylinders generally have a rated working pressure of 2,250 psig (158 kg/cm2 or 153 atm) to 3,500 psig. Cylinders with capacities from 26 standard cubic feet (742 standard liters) to over 100 standard cubic feet (2,857 standard liters) are used for scuba diving.

NOTE For long-term storage (i.e., more than 90 days), cylinders should be bled to approximately 20 psig and stored with valves closed to reduce internal corrosion. 5.7.2 High-Pressure Cylinders High-pressure cylinders are usually made from steel or aluminum, although prototypes of stainless steel and fiber wound composites have appeared. Carbon steel, used in early cylinders, has been replaced with chrome molybdenum steel. Aluminum is alloyed with other metals, such as magnesium and titanium. Steel cylinders were introduced in the late 1940s, and aluminum cylinders became popular in the 1970s, although the first aluminum cylinders were imported from France in 1950. Table 5.3 summarizes cylinder characteristics for a number of rated steel and aluminum cylinders. Steel cylinders are generally heavier and exhibit negative buoyancy when filled with air. Aluminum cylinders are lighter and tend to exhibit positive buoyancy before all cylinder air is depleted. To recover the buoyancy characteristics of steel cylinders, aluminum cylinders of the same size must have thicker walls, increasing their weight but not their displacement. 5.7.3 Cylinder Inspection and Maintenance The exteriors of most steel cylinders are protected against corrosion by galvanized metal (zinc), epoxy paint, or vinylplastic coating. The zinc bonds to the cylinder and protects it from air and water. It is recommended that exteriors of steel cylinders be galvanized for protection against corrosion. Some cylinders, however, were painted with epoxy paints or plastics in lieu of galvanizing. A problem arises when the


NOAA Diving Manual

TABLE 5.3 Cylinder Specifications
Material Steel Aluminum Aluminum Steel Steel Aluminum Aluminum Aluminum Steel Volume (ft3) 15 14 50 50 72 72 80 80 95 Pressure (psi) 3300 2015 3000 1980 2475 3000 3000 3000 3300 Length (in) 13.80 16.60 19.00 22.50 25.00 26.00 26.40 27.00 25.00 Diameter (in) 4.00 4.40 6.90 6.80 6.80 6.90 7.25 7.25 7.00 Weight (lbs) 7.5 5.4 21.5 20.8 29.5 28.5 33.3 34.5 39.1 Buoyancy (lbs) -1.30 3.22 2.25 2.43 3.48 3.60 4.00 4.12 -6.11

painted coating is scratched or chipped, exposing the bare metal underneath to water resulting in oxidation (corrosion). Consequently, non-galvanized steel cylinders should not be used. Epoxy paint or plastic over zinc-galvanized surfaces is acceptable, however, because it reduces electrolytic corrosion of the zinc by salt water and imparts an attractive appearance. With proper preventive maintenance, electrolytic corrosion is relatively insignificant on bare zinc coating. Since internal corrosion is a problem, manufacturers formerly applied protective linings on the interiors of steel cylinders. The use of internal coatings has only been relatively successful, because even a small flaw in the lining allows moisture in the cylinder to penetrate to bare metal. Corrosion under the lining cannot be seen or assessed. Also, the lining becomes unbonded and, in some cases, the resulting flakes clogged the valve or the regulator. Damaged linings must be removed. A corrosion-inhibiting epoxy-polyester finish is usually applied to the exterior of aluminum cylinders both to protect them and to give them an attractive color. If this coating scrapes off, an oxide layer forms that tends to protect the cylinder from further corrosion. In the past, the interiors of some aluminum cylinders received a protective layer over the base metal, such as Alrock ® or Irridite ® , which was applied during the fabrication process. Aluminum scuba cylinders no longer receive any interior treatment. Air cylinders and high-pressure manifolds should be rinsed thoroughly with fresh water after each use to remove traces of salt and other deposits. The exterior of the cylinder should be visually inspected for abrasion, dents, and corrosion. If the cylinder has deep abrasions or dents, it should be examined by a trained inspector before refilling; external corrosion should be removed and a protective coating applied to prevent further deterioration of the cylinder wall. Care also must be taken to prevent moisture accumulation inside highpressure cylinders. Cylinders used under water as a source of air for power tools or for lift bags often become contaminated by moisture returning through the valve. Any cylinder allowed to bleed pressure to zero in the water should not be refilled until it is inspected by a trained technician. Cylinders should be stored with a minimum of 20 psi of air remaining in the cylinder to keep moisture from entering the cylinder.

Cylinders should not be placed in a water bath for filling. The risk of water entering a cylinder while immersed in water and the resulting corrosion is potentially more hazardous than the risk of over-heating during filling. Moisture in a cylinder often can be detected by (1) the presence of a whitish mist when the valve is opened; (2) the sound of sloshing water when the cylinder is tipped back and forth; or (3) a damp or metallic odor to the air in the cylinder. Water in a cylinder can create a particularly dangerous condition in cold water diving, since ice can form in the first stage or in the hose prior to the second stage valve, causing the flow of air to the diver to be interrupted. Both steel and aluminum cylinders should be inspected internally by a trained technician at least once a year for damage and corrosion. Cylinders should be inspected more frequently if they are used in a tropical climate, if they receive especially hard service, or if flooding is suspected. A special rod-type low-voltage light that illuminates the entire inside of the cylinder should be used for internal visual inspection (see Figure 5.24). Standards and procedures for the visual inspection of compressed gas cylinders are discussed in detail in High (1987). Two forms of inspection are used, depending on the interval since the previous inspection or the nature of the suspected problem. An informal inspection is a cursory look at a scuba cylinder’s exterior and interior to determine if there is a reason to examine it further. A formal inspection is a complete evaluation against standards, in which a judgment is reached and evidence of the inspection is affixed to the cylinder in the form of a sticker that attests to the cylinder’s suitability for continued use. The sticker should indicate the standard used, the date of inspection, and the person conducting the inspection. The visual cylinder inspection procedure is neither complex nor time consuming, but should be performed only by persons properly trained and using appropriate tools. In general, the cylinder exterior should be compared to standards for: • Cuts, gouges, corrosion (general, pitting line), and stress lines • Dents or bulges • Signs of heat damage • General abuse • Condition of coating • Current hydrostatic test date Interior cylinder evaluations to standards should assess: • • • • • • Type and amount of cylinder contents (if any) Magnitude of general pitting or line corrosion Thread integrity Defects in interior coating (if any) Sign(s) of substantial material removal Internal neck cracks (aluminum cylinders)

There are several methods of hydrostatic testing of cylinders, including direct expansion, pressure recession, and the

Diver and Diving Support Equipment


FIGURE 5.24 Internal Inspection of a Scuba Cylinder

(i.e., 90 days), cylinders should be bled to 20 psig and stored with valves closed to reduce internal corrosion. There is a potential for moist ambient air to pass through the open valve into an empty cylinder as air temperatures change. If there is moisture in the cylinder, air at the higher pressure (higher partial pressure of oxygen) accelerates corrosion. However, a greater danger exists when partially filled aluminum cylinders are exposed to heat, as might occur during a building fire. The metal can soften before the temperature-raised pressure reaches that necessary to burst the frangible safety disk. An explosion may occur well below the cylinder service pressure. Rules for the use of scuba cylinders: 1. Do not fill high-pressure cylinders if the date of the last hydrostatic test has expired (five years for steel and aluminum cylinders) or if more than one year has passed since the last formal visual inspection. Charge cylinder at 300-600 psig/min to prevent excessive heat buildup. Never exceed the maximum allowable pressure for any particular cylinder. Never perform maintenance or repairs on a cylinder valve while the cylinder is charged. Handle charged cylinders carefully. Handling by the valve or body is preferred. Handling by straps or backpack may allow the cylinder to slip or drop. Store charged cylinders in an upright position in a cool, shady place to prevent overheating. Secure cylinders properly to prevent falling or rolling. Internal inspections, hydrostatic tests, and repair work should be performed only by trained technicians. Have cylinders visually inspected for interior deterioration annually (or more frequently, depending on use). Inspect cylinders externally before and after each dive for signs of general pitting or line corrosion, dents, cracks, or other damage. Never use a welded, fire-damaged, uninspected, gouged, or scarred cylinder. Remove cylinder boot frequently to inspect for corrosion. Boots that inhibit rapid draining and drying should not be used because they allow water to remain in contact with the cylinder, forming corrosion. Do not completely drain the cylinder of air during dives. Some residual air pressure prevents moisture from entering the cylinder.

2. 3. 4. 5.

6. 7. 8.



water jacket method. The most common method is the water jacket method, which involves filling the cylinder with water, placing it in a water-filled pressure chamber, raising the pressure inside the cylinder with a hydraulic pump, and measuring the amount of cylinder expansion in terms of water column displacement. The pressure is increased to 5/3 the rated pressure of the cylinder, except for PST steel cylinders manufactured under the E9791 permit. These 3,500 psig cylinders are tested to 3/2 service pressure. According to DOT regulations, a permanent expansion of 10% or more of the total expansion indicates that the cylinder is unsafe for use and should be condemned. Scuba cylinders may be stored at full pressure for short periods of time. However, for long-term storage





NOAA Diving Manual

Handwheel Nut

Only this brass slug moves back and forth



Handwheel Nut

Thin Edges (necessary for an effective seal) Teflon Washer Stem Brass Slug

Valve Seat Tiny O-ring
Opening and closing a valve with excessive force will damage the valve seat.

FIGURE 5.25 Valve Seats 5.7.4 Sustained Load Cracking (SLC) in 6351 Aluminum Alloy Cylinders Sustained Load Cracking, a metallurgical anomaly, occasionally develops in high-pressure aluminum cylinders made from 6351-alloy and may lead to explosive rupture. Both Walter Kidde and Luxfer (1972 to June, 1988) used 6351-alloy. The standard inspection method to examine the cylinder thread area for cracks or corrosion damage uses a magnifying mirror and light source. Although most flawed cylinders with SLC have been identified by this method, a means to verify findings was desired. In 1996 an eddy-current device was introduced as an additional tool for inspectors to detect occasional early, difficult-to-observe SLC. Sold under the brand name Visual Plus, it was followed in 1999 by a nearly identical unit, Visual Eddy. A third design is sold under the brand name Simple Eddy. Each device is capable of locating early cracking but also may produce false positive readings when improperly operated or when the cylinder thread areas being tested are inadequately cleaned. These devices should not be used on steel cylinders nor are they required for aluminum cylinders made from 6061-alloy. Another recently developed auxiliary tool, the Tank Inspection Pipe (TIP) (see Figure 5.24, bottom), is an excellent way to examine magnified, brightly lit cylinder threads. Cylinder inspectors should communicate with cylinder manufacturers to ensure they have the most current cylinder service and safety notices. 5.7.5 Cylinder Valve and Manifold Assembly Open-circuit scuba cylinders are normally worn on a diver’s back with the manifold/valve assembly up. The demand valve or second stage of the single-hose regulator is positioned at the diver’s mouth, regardless of cylinder orientation. The first stage must be kept in close proximity to the diver’s lungs to ensure a minimum hydrostatic pressure differential between demand valve and respiratory organs, regardless of diver orientation. If this is not achieved, the diver’s respiratory system must work harder than necessary to overcome this differential during inhalation (or exhalation, depending on orientation). If the diver’s air is to be supplied by two or more cylinders simultaneously, a manifold assembly is employed to join the cylinders and provide a common outlet. The manifold consists of sections of high-pressure piping and appropriate fittings specially configured and threaded to incorporate two or more cylinders, a valve and frangible burst disk into a single functional unit. The cylinder valve assembly is a simple, manually operated, multiple-turn valve that controls the flow of high-pressure gas from the scuba cylinder (see Figure 5.25). It also is the point of attachment for the demand regulator. After the regulator has been attached to the cylinder valve and just before using the apparatus, the valve is opened fully and then backed off one-fourth of a turn. It remains open throughout the dive. On completion of the dive, the cylinder valve is closed and should be bled to atmospheric pressure, which prevents the Oring from blowing out when the regulator is removed.

Diver and Diving Support Equipment


Burst Disk



Safety Hole (Under Flange) Valve Snorkel

FIGURE 5.27 K-Valve and J-Valve not manually released. The remaining or reserve air can be released by manually overriding the spring-loaded check valve. The K-valve is an open-closed valve with no reserve mechanism. NOTE The reserve valve lever must be in the ÒdownÓ position when charging cylinders. When a diver depresses the cylinder valve/manifoldmounted reserve lever, a plunger pin within the reserve valve advances, forcing the flow check to back off the orifice against the action of the spring. The remaining 300 or 500 psi (23 or 30 kg/cm2) of air is then made available to the diver. Divers should be aware that the availability and duration of the reserve air supplied through a reserve valve are dependent on the number of cylinders carried, the depth of the dive and the diver’s RMV. The 300 psi (23 kg/cm2) reserve available is at actual cylinder pressure; it is not 300 psi above ambient pressure. Thus, at a depth of 100 ft. (ambient pressure of approximately 50 psi), only 250 psi (17 kg/cm2) is available until the diver starts to ascend. Also, the reserve valve mechanism retains a reserve air supply only in one cylinder of a twin set of cylinders; the other cylinder or cylinders are at a lower pressure when the reserve valve trips. When the reserve mechanism is activated, the reserve air distributes itself proportionately in all cylinders. For this reason, the reserve valve mechanism employed with twin cylinders must be set to provide a 500-psi reserve. Unfortunately, though generally reliable, the reserve valve mechanism is subject to physical damage or mechanical failure and, if moved as little as 1/8” to 1/4”, may be tripped inadvertently early in the dive, which allows the reserve air to be exhausted without the diver’s knowledge. Thus, the diver should continuously monitor his reserve valve and submersible pressure gauge during the dive. NOTE Reserve valves should be inspected annually for defects or whenever a malfunction is suspected.

FIGURE 5.26 Cylinder Valve Safety Features When a single cylinder supplies diver’s air, the cylinder valve unit is generally sealed directly into the neck of the cylinder by a straight-threaded male connection containing a neoprene O-ring on the valve body. Most cylinders placed in service before 1960 were fitted with a valve having a 0.5-inch tapered thread without O-rings. When a single cylinder is utilized, the cylinder valve assembly houses a high-pressure burst disk as a safety feature to prevent cylinder pressure from reaching a critical level during charging or under conditions of elevated temperature. Old-style lead-filled blowout plugs must be replaced with modern frangible disk assemblies (see Figure 5.26). When twin cylinders are used, two separate burst disc assemblies must be installed in the manifold. Valve manufacturers use burst disks designed to rupture around the cylinder’s hydrostatic test pressure. The rating may be stamped on the face of the burst disk assembly to prevent confusion, and disks of different pressure ratings must not be used interchangeably. Valves are not interchangeable between cylinders having different service pressures unless their respective burst disk assemblies are also interchanged. 5.7.6 Reserve Valve The reserve valve (also called a J-valve), illustrated in Figure 5.27, is a spring-loaded check valve that begins to close as the cylinder pressure approaches a predetermined level, generally 300 or 500 psi (23 or 30 kg/cm2). Until this pressure is approached, the reserve valve permits an unrestricted flow of air to the regulator throughout the dive. At the predetermined pressure, a spring forces a flow check against the port orifice and restricts the air flow, causing increased breathing resistance. This is followed by total obstruction of air flow if the reserve air is


NOAA Diving Manual

FIGURE 5.29 Fill Station FIGURE 5.28 Air Fill Control Panel With Fill Hoses TABLE 5.4 Typical Fill Times
FROM PRESSURE IN STORAGE (AFTER EQUALIZING IN DIVE TANK) 2,500 psi 2,250 psi 2,000 psi 1,500 psi TO NOMINAL TANK SIZE AND PRESSURE 83 cu. ft. to 3,000 psi 12 sec. 28 sec. 39 sec. 75 sec. 14 sec. 22 sec. 50 sec. 12 sec. 35 sec. 71.2 cu. ft. to 2,475 psi 71.2 cu. ft. to 2,250 psi 80 cu. ft. to 4,400 psi 60 sec. 90 sec.

For some scientific surface-supplied diving operations, a high-pressure air storage system may be better than a low-pressure compressor system. In some cases, the size of the surface support platform dictates the type of gas supply system to use. A high-pressure system can be tailored conveniently to the requirements of a particular operation, and offers the additional advantage of reduced noise and improved communication. The planning factors that influence the configuration of a high-pressure air storage system include: • Depth of the planned dive • Number of divers to be supplied and the anticipated exertion level • Type of breathing apparatus (free flow or demand) • Size of the surface support platform A complete system includes high-pressure cylinders (200–350 standard cubic foot size), the necessary piping and manifolds, a pressure-reduction regulator, and a volume tank (at least one cubic foot volume) (see Figures 5.28, 5.29). A high-pressure filter should always be incorporated into or be located just upstream of each pressure regulator. Filter elements should be of the woven-metal cloth type and should have a collapse pressure rating greater than the maximum possible pressure differential. A high-pressure gauge must be located ahead of the pressure reduction regulator, and a lowpressure gauge must be connected to the volume cylinder. The volume tank must be fitted with an overpressure relief valve. A manually controlled regulator by-pass valve or a redundant regulator with its own filter also should be included in the system. NOTE If cylinder banks are used as a back-up to a compressor supply, the bank must be manifolded with the primary source so that an immediate switch from primary to secondary air is possible.

Booster pumps “boost” medium pressure storage gas (air, nitrox, oxygen) directly into dive cylinders to higher pressures rapidly. An example would be taking a pressure of 2,250 psi to 4,400 psi in a 80 cu. ft. cylinder in 60 seconds (see Table 5.4 and Figures 5.30, 5.31). This system of increasing pressure to a higher range provides cooler operation on medium pressure compressors which will extend time between overhauls of compressors. Gas booster pump benefits: • Cooler operation to extend time between overhauls by thousands of hours regardless of compressor nameplate rating • Lower cost storage cylinders, purifier units, compressors, motors and piping • Provides 2,500 psi up to 5,000 psi scuba cylinder fills WARNING HIGH-PRESSURE GAS CAN BE DANGEROUS IF IMPROPERLY HANDLED. NOTE Maximum “net” boost is 2,250 psig. In practice (for reasonable fill speed), consider 2,000 psi as maximum “net.” For example, storage pressure should be no less than 1,000 psi to top off 3,000 psi scuba cylinders or 2,400 psi to top off 4,400 psi scuba cylinders.

Diver and Diving Support Equipment


SIZE: 15 in X 15 in X 20 in WEIGHT: 50 lbs. (Approx.)

Positive maximum pressure setting adjustment 1,000 to 5,000 psi range with independent safety relief valve.

PURIFIED BOOSTED AIR OUT Directly to dive tank up to 4,400 psi.

PURIFIED STORAGE AIR IN From existing compressor stroage bank up to 2,800 psi.

FIGURE 5.30 Pressure and Safety Controls on Booster Pump

Two styles of pressure gauges can be used to determine the amount of air in a scuba cylinder. A surface cylinder pressure gauge is used to check the amount of air in a cylinder on the surface. This type of gauge fits over the cylinder manifold outlet, attaches in the same manner as a regulator, and provides a discrete check of the pressure in a cylinder. A pressure release valve is installed on the gauge so that air trapped in the gauge can be relieved after a reading has been taken and the cylinder has been closed. These small dial gauge movements are designed with an accuracy of ± 100 psi but may become less accurate with use. The submersible cylinder pressure gauge attaches directly to the first stage of a scuba regulator by a length of high-pressure rubber hose. These gauges provide divers Drive Air Pilot Valve
Poppet design, all stainless steel with molded Buna-N Seal

Drive Section Caps
High strength aluminum

Drive Air Piston(s)
High-strength anodized aluminum. Unique minimum friction dynamic seal

Connecting Rod Drive Air Inlet Port
No air line lubrication required

Drive Section Air Barrel
Reinforced plastic

Vent Between Dual Seals on Connecting Rod Filtered Breather to Chamber Behind HighPressure Piston(s) Drive Exhaust Muffler
Helps cool high-pressure section

Drive Air Cycling Valve
Low inertia aluminum spool within stainless steel sleeve. Air pilot shifted Ñ no springs. Minimum friction, yet no air leakage.

Drive Air Exhaust Tube

High-Pressure Cylinder(s)
15-5 PH stainless steel

High-Pressure Piston(s) High-Pressure Seals and Bearings
Operates dry without any lubrication

High-Pressure Check Valves
Spring loaded poppets. Seats optically lapped.

Cooling Jacket Breathing Air (or Oxygen) Inlet High-Pressure End Cap
Boosters consist of a large area reciprocating air-drive directly coupled by a connecting rod to a small area gas piston. The gas piston operates in a high-pressure gas barrel section. Each gas barrel end cap contains high-pressure inlet and outlet check valves. The air-drive section includes a cycling spool and pilot valves that provide continuous reciprocating action when air is supplied to the air-drive inlet. Isolation of the gas compression chambers from the air-drive section is provided by three sets of dynamic seals. The intervening two chambers are vented to atmosphere. This design prevents air-drive contamination from entering the gas stream. Cooling is provided by routing the cold exhausted drive air through an individual jacket surrounding the gas barrel and also through an intercooler on the interstage line.

Breathing Air (or Oxygen) Outlet

FIGURE 5.31 Oil-Free Air-Driven Gas Booster


NOAA Diving Manual

FIGURE 5.34 Submersible Pressure Gauge Console

FIGURE 5.32 Bourdon Tube Mechanism in SPGs

with a continual readout of their remaining air. Many units have a console that holds the compass, depth gauge, and cylinder pressure gauge. These consoles free the diver's arms from encumbrances. Some type of submersible pressure gauge, whether it is mechanical or electronic, is essential for diving. In many cases today, manufacturers are offering air integrated dive computers that monitor both air pressure and bottom time to compute remaining dive time. However, some divers prefer to keep their instruments separate so that if one device fails, the other is not compromised. Inside the mechanical submersible pressure gauge, one end of the pressure reading tube is sealed and is allowed to move; the other end is held fixed and is connected to a high-pressure air supply. As the air pressure increases, the bourdon tube tends to straighten out or to uncurl slightly (see Figure 5.32). This movement causes the needle on the gauge face to turn. Although gauges currently in use are designed to be accurate and reliable,

they are not precision laboratory instruments. The gauge dial face should be easy to read and should have highcontrast markings. Most mechanical gauges have a luminous dial that is easy to read at night. Electronic gauges frequently have a back-light feature that can be turned on momentarily when needed. Miniature submersible pressure gauges are available that connect directly to the first stage of a regulator without an intervening high-pressure hose (see Figure 5.33). These gauges are ideal for use with a bail-out cylinder or in other situations where a hoseless gauge is desirable. The only maintenance that a submersible pressure gauge needs is a freshwater rinse after use. To prevent internal deterioration and corrosion of a surface gauge, the dust cap that covers the high-pressure inlet must be firmly in place. Submersible pressure gauges should be handled with care, should be stored securely when not in use, and should be tested annually by a qualified testing technician. 5.10.1 Use of Submersible Pressure Gauge Use of a submersible cylinder pressure gauge (see Figure 5.34) is a requirement in nearly all recreational and scientific diving. These gauges have largely replaced constant reserve valves and audio systems. When reading a gauge is difficult, as is the case in low-visibility conditions, a reserve “J” valve can be carried as well. In addition, dial faces that glow in the dark increase gauge readability under marginal light conditions. Some newer gauges are able to provide data on the amount of time remaining for the dive at the current breathing gas consumption rate. This feature calculates the pressure drop in the cylinder over time and predicts the amount of air time remaining, assuming a continued constant rate of use. However, divers should be aware that changing their respiration rates can dramatically alter the amount of time remaining at low cylinder pressures or when diving at deep depths. The use of consoles that allow other types of gauges to be added to the submersible pressure gauge has increased the amount of information that can be obtained when a diver monitors the submersible cylinder pressure gauge. Maximum depth indicators, bottom timers, and compasses are now commonly associated with pressure gauges. However, this use of console gauge holders has added considerably to the mass of the high-pressure hose end, and the

FIGURE 5.33 Miniature Submersible Pressure Gauges

Diver and Diving Support Equipment


hose and gauge must be positioned carefully as a result; the high-pressure hose can be run inside the waist strap on the back pack so that the gauges are located on the thigh in a readable position. When worn improperly, a submersible pressure gauge positioned at the end of a 2- to 3-foot (0.6 to 0.9 m) length of high-pressure hose can increase the chance that a diver will foul on bottom debris or become entangled with equipment. The gauge supply hose must be connected to a high-pressure port with compatible threads or be used with an adapter. The high-pressure hose normally has chrome-plated brass fittings with a restricting orifice. Should the highpressure hose rupture, this orifice prevents rapid loss of cylinder air and allows the diver time to abort the dive and surface. Care must be taken to keep water from getting into the first stage of the regulator before the cylinder valve is opened, because otherwise water could be blown into the submersible pressure gauge and other regulator parts. Divers also should never submerge their scuba cylinders when the valve is off and there is no pressure in the attached regulator. Gauge readings that err by as much as 300 psi (23 kg/ cm2) or more may occur because gauge accuracy declines with use, especially if small amounts of water have entered the mechanism. Divers should compare their gauges to known cylinder pressures regularly; gauges should be checked at various pressures. Professional dive facilities often use gauges in their high-pressure air systems that are accurate to one or two percent so they can make cylinders with known pressures available to their customers for comparison. All submersible pressure gauges (see Figure 5.35) used by NOAA divers are inspected and tested yearly by a trained technician. WARNING DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE FACE OF ANY PRESSURE GAUGE WHEN TURNING ON THE CYLINDER BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF A BLOWOUT. Because the accuracy of the slow indicator needle declines during normal use, the needle on a defective unit might stick, which could cause the pressure reading to be higher than it actually is. Divers in the field can assess the adequacy of submersible gauge needle function by releasing pressure from the gauge over a three-minute period while they observe the needle for erratic movement. Defective gauges must be serviced for replacement of parts.

The buoyancy compensator is not a lifesaving device and cannot be relied upon to float the diver face up in the water. In addition, any buoyancy compensator may fail to hold air due to damage or lack of maintenance. For a diver wearing a weight belt and weights, in an emergency, the only reasonably certain way to increase positive buoyancy is to drop the weight belt. The buoyancy compensator is critical to making buoyancy adjustments throughout each dive. Prior to the dive, the diver should perform a predive inspection of functionality of the BC, including hoses, connections, over-pressurization valve, power inflator, etc. For surface swimming, the diver will normally want to have just enough air in the buoyancy compensator to be positively buoyant. At the start of the descent, the diver releases just enough air from the buoyancy compensator to start to sink. While swimming under water, the amount of air in the buoyancy compensator is adjusted to make the diver neutrally buoyant. While working on the bottom, the diver will frequently want to be negatively buoyant for added stability while taking photographs or writing on an underwater slate.

Submersible Cylinder Pressure Gauges

Surface Cylinder Pressure Gauge

The buoyancy compensator, frequently referred to as a “BC” or “BCD” (buoyancy control device), was designed to allow the diver to make adjustments to his buoyancy. This can be done under water or on the surface. FIGURE 5.35 Gauges


NOAA Diving Manual

or straps. In any case. This design is very comfortable to wear and offers good stability. but most conform to either the “jacket” style.36).36 Original Horsecollar Buoyancy Compensator FIGURE 5.37).38 Jacket-style Buoyancy Compensator Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-27 .” which can be inflated or deflated • An airway or corrugated inflator hose • A mouthpiece for adding air orally and venting air • A power inflator for adding low pressure air from the regulator • A safety harness and buckles. or “air cell. The webbing and BC must be soaked in water prior to adjusting the band to hold the cylinder or the band will loosen once it becomes wet and the cylinder FIGURE 5. include a cylinder band for mounting the scuba cylinder. If a horsecollar BC is used. Nearly all buoyancy compensators. leaving fewer straps and obstructions on the diver’s chest.Almost all buoyancy compensators include the following components in their design: • An air bladder. The back-mounted buoyancy compensator (also referred to as “wings”) is good for working in a vertical position in the water or swimming horizontally (see Figure 5. the cylinder band is almost always made of stiff nylon webbing. This design makes it more difficult for the diver who is trying to swim horizontally or work vertically under water because the buoyancy of the unit tends to roll the diver backwards. for attaching the buoyancy compensator to the diver’s body • An overpressure relief valve for relieving air pressure Buoyancy compensators vary widely in design. Back-mounted buoyancy compensators put the air bladder behind the diver. The cylinder band that secures the cylinder to the buoyancy compensator may attach to a metal or hard plastic plate. Jacket-style buoyancy compensators usually include a bladder that places some of the buoyancy in front of the diver around his waist and some of the buoyancy behind the diver (see Figure 5. Many back-mounted BCs are made using a stretchy material to constrict the FIGURE 5. The horse-collar design places all of the buoyancy in front of the diver and can usually be relied upon to float the diver face up in most situations. the diver must use a separate backpack to support and secure the cylinder on his back.37 Back-Mounted Buoyancy Compensator air bladder. a back-mounted BC will tend to push the diver into a face down position. Jacket-style buoyancy compensators tend to have more drag than back-mounted buoyancy compensators. reducing it to an extremely compact size that renders very little drag. On the surface. with the exception of the “horse-collar” design. The bladder collapses when the air is vented from it. which wraps the diver in buoyancy or the “back-mounted” design. It is a good compromise for allowing the diver to work comfortably in a variety of positions.38). developed in the late 1960s. and places all of the buoyancy behind the diver. were of the “horse-collar” design. The webbing must be threaded correctly through the buckle to prevent the cylinder from slipping out of the band. or it may connect directly to the soft fabric of the BC itself. Original buoyancy compensators (see Figure 5.

However. Dual point release mechanisms usually require both hands and only ditch half the weights which are normally distributed on the left and right sides of the diver’s body (see Figure 5. Some divers who use integrated BCs prefer to split their weights between the BC and weight belt. beyond that needed to establish positive buoyancy for himself when fully geared up. and x-large. and tools. For transporting the BC. Almost every BC also has an accessory pocket where small items may be stored. The question frequently arises as to how much lift is needed for a buoyancy compensator. The value of this design is that in many cases.will fall out of the band. large. With a single point release. instruments. the diver normally does not need more than 20-30 pounds of lift.39) or a dual point release. Integrated weight systems also transfer the weight from the diver’s hips to his shoulders. When only half the weights are ditched. Some models of buoyancy compensators include integrated weight systems. such as x-small. Customization will usually provide a better fit but is usually more expensive. This reduced weight will usually still hold the BC down. where the weights are contained in pockets in the BC. with no air in BC (and dry suit) and 500 psi of air in cylinder 5-28 NOAA Diving Manual . or dry suits. small. FIGURE 5. cylinder. placing a small amount of weight in the BC and the balance on their belt. By pulling down on the inflator hose. the stainless cable is pulled and opens the remote exhaust that vents the buoyancy compensator. only half the weights may need to be ditched in order to establish positive buoyancy. Dual point release mechanisms should only be used by experienced divers with advanced training.39 Back-Mounted Buoyancy Compensator With Single Point Weight System ¥ Initial (predive) test: Adjust weight to float at eye level after exhalation and with no air in BC (and dry suit) ¥ Final (end-of-dive) test: Adjust weights to be able to remain motionless at a depth of 15 ft. The remote exhaust is positioned on the shoulder end of the inflator hose. the diver’s ascent will usually not be as rapid as when all the weights are ditched. the diver needs very little lift. cold water divers wearing thick wet suits. and multiple high-pressure cylinders may need considerably more lift. Some divers find an integrated weight system more comfortable than wearing a weight belt because it helps eliminate the bruising that may occur from contact with the weights.40 Dual Point Release System Some models of buoyancy compensators come in standard sizes.40). Integrated weight systems are usually supplied with either a single point release (see Figure 5. one pull will normally ditch all of the weights contained in the BC. and weights. Others may be customized with different size components or widely adjustable waist belts and shoulder straps. without the bulk that sometimes occurs by filling the BC with the total compliment of weights normally used to dive. For the average diver who is properly weighted and using a single cylinder. In most situations. Advantages to this design are that ditching the weights is extremely rapid and ditching can be accomplished with one hand. which helps to reduce back stress. Buoyancy Testing FIGURE 5. One advantage to the weight integrated BC is that it prevents the buoyancy compensator from floating up on the diver’s body. Many BCs are equipped with a remote exhaust mechanism which is activated by a stainless steel cable running on the inside of the corrugated inflator hose. This design eliminates the need for a separate weight belt. Certain models of BCs are equipped with stainless steel D-rings which can be used as an attachment point for lights. it may be desirable to remove the weights from the BC rather than dealing with the combined weight of the BC. medium. Instructions for threading the cylinder band are usually attached to the band itself.

The simplest power inflators are designed to solely add air to the buoyancy compensator and provide oral inflation and venting capabilities.41. Larger molded weights. a separate lift bag should be used to raise the object to the surface.1 Power Inflator Mechanisms Almost all buoyancy compensators today are equipped with some type of low pressure power inflator (see Figures 5.” Lead shot (small. Weights come in several different forms including lead shot. Water should be run into the mouthpiece of the power inflator to remove any salt and sand that may have entered it. round pellets) is normally supplied in sealed bags made of mesh or other materials. 5.42 In-Line Compact Second Stage Combined With BC Inflator Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-29 .42) that uses air from the scuba cylinder to inflate the buoyancy compensator. The BC should be dried by inflating it fully and hanging it in a location with good air circulation that is out of direct sun light and other heat sources.11. 5. Once the water has been flushed through the BC. If the object is more than ten pounds negatively buoyant. If possible. 5. clean water.FIGURE 5. the BC should be turned upside down one more time and the exhaust button on the mouthpiece should be depressed to drain any water that has pooled inside of the BC. They combine both functions into a single unit. 5. The amount of weight worn will vary from diver to diver depending on the diver’s personal physique. This eliminates the need for two divers to attempt to share a single mouthpiece by passing it back and forth. similar to those used on a dry suit. The diver should check to see that air has not leaked out of the BC before it is deflated for storage.41 Power Inflator Integrated With a Regulator Under no circumstances should the diver use his buoyancy compensator as a lifting device for retrieving heavy objects (over ten pounds) from the bottom.43). Dirty water that is allowed to remain in the BC will cause bacterial growth. Prior to deflating.2 Maintenance of Buoyancy Compensators After diving. Another design that is also popular utilizes a compact second stage that plugs in between the low pressure hose from the regulator and the quick disconnect fitting on the power inflator. molded weights. buoyancy compensators should be given a thorough rinse in fresh. The exhaust button on the mouthpiece should be held open and water run inside the BC until it is at least 1/3 full. This is undesirable. over six pounds. Following this. should the diver lose control of the object. Without the power inflator. a weight belt is usually worn while diving. This procedure will help to clean out any water that entered the BC while diving. which are used in belts with pouches or in integrated weight systems FIGURE 5. and any instruments he may be carrying. and molded weights with plastic coatings (see Figure 5. These curved weights are referred to as “hip weights. The danger in using the BC as a lifting device is that. it is necessary for the diver to remove the regulator from his mouth under water to blow air into the BC to achieve neutral buoyancy.3 Weight Belts and Weights To offset the buoyancy of the diver’s body and other equipment. More sophisticated power inflators are available that also serve as an alternate air source for sharing air with a diving partner. the entire BC should be submerged in a tub of water and agitated vigorously. They are normally equipped with a quick disconnect hose. it should be turned upside down again and the exhaust button on the mouthpiece should be held open until all the water runs out of the BC. a technique that is known as “buddy-breathing. the BC should be turned upside down and rotated completely several times to ensure full circulation of the water inside it. These low profile regulators are true regulators and in some cases can be disconnected from the power inflator and still function independently.11. Rapid ascents are dangerous and can cause lung over-pressure injuries and omitted decompression. It may be necessary to repeat this procedure several times to thoroughly rinse the interior of the BC.11. are normally curved to conform to the shape of the human body. the type of equipment he is wearing.” It also eliminates the need for a separate dedicated “octopus” second stage. he will become instantly positively buoyant and can suffer a rapid ascent.

and down through the second slot. FIGURE 5. but great care should be taken in hanging items from the safety harness because of the dangers of fouling.46 Weight Safety Harness 5-30 NOAA Diving Manual . The use of keepers can be avoided by putting a half twist in the belt webbing after it has been fed through the first slot but before it is inserted in the second slot. Many diving umbilicals incorporate a snap shackle. D-rings should be stainless steel. “weight keepers” may be used on either side or center of each weight. D-rings are used for securing the umbilical and fastening the safety harness across the diver’s chest. others incorporate a D-ring on the diver’s end of the umbilical and leave it to the diver to supply his own snap shackle.44).11. with rivets added at stress points. over the top of the weight. through one of the two slots. it must be equipped with a mechanism to ditch the weights quickly and easily. “Weight keepers” are made from metal or plastic and are used to prevent molded weights from sliding on the belt (see Figure 5. FIGURE 5.43 Shot Filled Bag and Molded Weights (see Figure 5. To assemble a weight belt using molded weights and nylon webbing. If this type of system is used.45). To prevent the weights from sliding. the belt is fed from the back of each weight. Divers can usually carry more weight by using a safety harness than they can carry comfortably on a weight belt. The safety harness is also a convenient hanger for tools and devices that the diver may be required to carry with him.4 Safety Harnesses The safety harness used by surface-supplied divers is an upper torso safety harness that serves the purpose of keeping umbilical stress distributed evenly against the diver. but they are inexpensive and using them makes the belt more compact and requires less webbing. 5. without removing the entire safety harness. Weight keepers are not essential. which is moused onto the left side D-ring of the safety harness. Molded weights are slotted so that they may be threaded onto belts made from nylon webbing. Positioning more weights closer to the diver’s stomach will tend to cause the diver to assume a face-down position.44 Weight Belt with Pouches FIGURE 5. the weights are supported on the diver’s shoulders. Putting more weight on one side or the other will cause the diver to “list” to one side.46). Another alternative to the conventional weight belt is the weight safety harness (see Figure 5. Adjusting the weights closer to the diver’s back will tend to roll the diver onto his back. A typical surface-supplied divers’ safety harness is made of nylon webbing and is stitched.FIGURE 5.45 Weight Keepers Whatever type of weight system is used. By wearing a safety harness. the weights should be balanced on both sides of the diver’s body.

surface-supplied diving is a superior method of working under water. Surface-supplied gear works best when the diver is working in a relatively restricted area especially on deep or extended dives. the low pressure hose supplying the bail-out gas to the helmet or mask would rupture if the first stage leaks. There are many combinations of gas sources that can be used.48 Diving Safety Harness FIGURE 5.47) should be stainless steel or brass. This lanyard should be no longer than the width of the diver’s fist.12.49). Navy Diving Manual Rev 4 1999). Rinse it well.51). Snap Shackle Every couple of months the safety harness should be cleaned with soap and water to remove accumulated oils that will speed the deterioration of threads.50) or multiple cylinders of high-pressure breathing gas (reduced to low pressure) (see Figure 5. The safety harness and snap shackle should be rinsed FIGURE 5.48) and bail-out cylinder.Snap shackles (see Figure 5.S.50 Low-Pressure Compressor Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-31 .49 Over-Pressure Relief Valve 5. 5. or a combination of the two. It is generally not recommended when the diver must cover large areas of the bottom (U.47 in fresh water after each dive. For certain applications. and should be smooth and free of knobs or loops that could catch on underwater objects and inadvertently disengage the diver from his umbilical.1 Topside Breathing Gas Source The topside breathing gas supply for surface-supplied diving can be either a low pressure compressor (see Figure 5. The minimum equipment required for surface-supplied diving includes the following: • • • • • • • • Topside breathing gas source Dive control manifold Communications box Umbilical Safety harness Full-face mask or helmet Thermal protection Reserve breathing supply (bail-out cylinder) 5. In this diving mode. The bail-out cylinder provides an emergency source of breathing gas in the event the topside supply is cut off.12 SURFACE-SUPPLIED DIVING EQUIPMENT Surface-supplied diving is an alternative to using self contained equipment. Inspect the safety harness and snap shackle frequently for signs of deterioration and repair or replace as necessary. and should have a small lanyard attached to the opening pin. FIGURE 5. The regulator used with the bail-out cylinder must be equipped with an over-pressure relief valve to vent pressure should the first stage develop a leak (see Figure 5. the diver’s breathing gas is supplied from topside via a diving hose (umbilical). Without this valve. should be small in diameter. FIGURE 5.5 Safety Harness and Bail-Out Cylinder The surface-supplied diver must be equipped with a safety harness (see Figure 5.11. The bail-out cylinder worn on the safety harness consist of a scuba cylinder with a first stage regulator and a low-pressure hose running to an emergency valve on the diver’s headgear. should be positivelock.

An ordinary scuba first-stage regulator mounted topside will not work properly because it cannot sense the pressure at the diver’s depth.51 Typical Manifolding for a HP Quad If air is the only breathing medium required. The manifold can be used to switch breathing gases supplied to the diver. are often stored and transported in steel frames that hold about 16 cylinders. highly accurate depth gauge with a needle valve connected between it and the air supply for the diver.” a device that is used to measure the diver’s depth. scuba cylinders can be used as the air supply. or combinations of hoses and fittings and mated together to distribute the gases. standing upright or stacked on their sides all pointing in the same direction. the system may include multiple cylinders of different mixtures. just by opening the cylinder valve and/or a manifold valve (see Figure 5. they normally are equipped with a “pneumofathometer. Do not forget to close empty cylinders before opening full ones. the manifold will include a pressure-reducing regulator that is used to control the intermediate pressure supplied to the diver. but the pressure drop may be counterproductive. To take a depth reading. They normally include multiple pressure-reducing regulators and a manual metering valve that can be used in an emergency if the regulators fail. Diving manifolds are used in a variety of ways to distribute gases (which in motion have the properties of fluids). Divers may be required to fabricate or repair such a manifold.2 Diver Control Manifold Surface-supplied diving is normally conducted using some type of breathing gas manifold that is used to monitor and control the supply and pressure of gas to the diver. appropriately named the pneumofathometer hose. Manifolds may be fabricated on-site with available materials or purchased from supply houses. 5. If mixed gas is being used. the manifold operator opens the needle valve until the hose is filled with air and the diver reports that air is bubbling out the end of the hose. High-pressure compressed gases. If a low-pressure compressor is used. including air. They may be blocks of steel with internally bored holes to provide various pathways for the gases. Mixed gas manifolds are slightly more complex than air diving manifolds. Instead of moving a regulator from cylinder to cylinder as they are used. The manifold operator closes the valve and the back pressure trapped in the hose provides a highly accurate reading of the diver’s depth on the gauge. it must be equipped with a volume tank (which acts as a reserve and a moisture trap) and adequate filtration. In some cases where high-pressure air is used. Diver control manifolds designed exclusively for use with compressed air are typically the least complex and easiest to operate. and high-pressure valves. The volume of usable gas will remain the same. This regulator must be adjusted by topside personnel as the diver moves deeper or shallower. the entire dive can be run using a single source.12. or co-fitted together. The optimum arrangement is a low pressure compressor with a diesel engine as the power source and high-pressure cylinders as the back-up. These manifolds are constructed using a combination of fittings and ball valves plumbed to accomplish the desired distribution. WARNING NEVER WORK ON A HP MANIFOLD OR OTHER SYSTEM COMPONENT UNDER PRESSURE. although it is much safer if multiple sources are available. or the contents of the full cylinder will be transferred into the empty cylinders. Regardless of the type of manifold used. REMEMBER TO OPEN HP VALVES S-L-O-W-L-Y. Most mixed gas manifolds will accept breathing gas from a minimum of three sources. They may be designed to handle only low-pressure air or may support both high-pressure and low-pressure air. A “T” fitting then connects to an open-ended hose which is bundled in the diver’s umbilical. the manifold should be capable of supporting two divers. These are HP manifolds and are commonly fabricated using stainless steel tubing or flexible hoses and fittings.HP REGULATOR WITH UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM PRESSURE GAUGES FIGURE 5. If high-pressure air is used.51). A manifold is a device that distributes gases in different directions. If high-pressure sources of oxygen are to be used during the dive. A pressure-reducing regulator is adjusted manually to the correct over-bottom helmet pressure for the depth of the diver. the cylinders are manifolded together so that new cylinders can be brought on line as needed. then the entire system must be oxygen cleaned and compatible (see Chapter 15). Manifolds are commonly fabricated and attached to compressor frames and volume tanks to distribute the air to different places. The pneumofathometer consists of a large. 5-32 NOAA Diving Manual . All valves should be properly labeled indicating their intended purpose. Ideally.

At a minimum. both topside and the diver can speak at the same time. In a push-to-talk system. FIGURE 5. One such manifold is called a “rack box” which not only distributes gases directly to the divers (their dive umbilicals are attached to the rack box) but has fittings for pneumofathometer hoses and depth gauges to monitor the divers’ depths. There are two types of hardwire communications systems. there is no button to push. The umbilical bundle can either float or sink. communications wire. Label all valves and hoses as to purpose.12. 5. 5. he merely speaks into the helmet. the diver cannot be heard. Without the use of the unscrambler the diver’s speech is high pitched and difficult to understand. Thus.3 Communication Box Communications in surface-supplied diving are supported with a hardwire communications system that permits two-way speech. a cable.53).53 Air Manifold Box Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-33 . two-wire systems which are more commonly referred to as “push-to-talk. subjected to the same pressures as the lines that feed them. only one person can speak at a time. the umbilical will usually consist of the diver’s air supply hose. In a fourwire system.52 Dive Station Volume Tank Manifolds are not considered pressure vessels but are. Most scientific divers will probably find a floating hose easier to work with. FIGURE 5. This requires special care on the part of the topside operator. of course. Deep diving with mixed gas requires using special communication systems with “helium unscramblers” to render the diver’s speech intelligible.12. especially when the bottom is rocky or there are obstructions. “Manifold rack boxes” are either purchased commercially or fabricated in-house. “Deck manifolds” are fabricated for special purposes to distribute gases at some point between the volume tanks (see Figure 5.54). and therefore they need to be maintained properly.” and four-wire systems which are known as “round robin. Some commercial rack boxes also contain a built-in diver’s radio.FIGURE 5. This is a more reliable system than wireless communications. The system works much like a telephone. When the diver speaks to topside. and earphones and a microphone inside the helmet (see Figure 5. depending on the type of hose specified at the time of purchase. and are more than just manifolds (see Figure 5. two wires carry the signal down to the diver. This system is more like using a telephone but still requires one person to speak at a time so each person can be understood clearly. pneumofathometer hose. and a strength member.4 Umbilical The umbilical is a bundle of hoses and cables that are taped or twisted together. since when the button is depressed for topside to speak to the diver.52) and the divers. Other components may include a hot-water supply hose and a video cable. The system consists of a topside communications box with a power supply. Usually they are small and portable and either sit among the hoses on deck or are hung on a bulkhead or railing.” Either system is acceptable. but both systems require discipline in use.54 Communications Box waterproof connectors at the diver’s mask or helmet. The two wires must carry the signal one way at a time either up or down. and two wires carry the signal back up to the surface.

In most cases.FIGURE 5. The diver must be able to operate this device with a gloved hand. while head gear that is too heavy will result in a sore neck. which is a fiber rope. The buoyancy and balance of the helmet are critical to the diver’s comfort. Hoses that are not especially designed for diving can give off toxic fumes that can be harmful to divers. flexible hose with a 1/4 inch internal diameter. There is no mouthpiece in this gear for the diver to grip with his teeth.56). Polypropylene floats and can help to make the umbilical more positively buoyant. small weights. and expensive.5 Full-Face Masks and Helmets The mask or helmet provides breathing capability but also includes an oral/nasal cavity (small internal mask covering the nose and mouth) for speech. Deeper dives. Helmets that do not include a demand regulator may be impractical for scientific diving since they require a highvolume of low-pressure air to adequately supply breathing air to the diver. low-pressure air compressors which are large. In some cases. as well as dives in cold. the diver need only open the emergency valve to access the bail-out supply. The pneumofathometer hose is usually a soft. or areas with penetrating obstructions. If a strength member is included in the umbilical it can be either 3/8” inch braided nylon or 3/8” inch polypropylene line.12. Every mask and helmet must include a valve system that allows a bail-out cylinder to be plumbed directly into the breathing system with a shut-off knob. to adjust the balance of the helmet. the communications wire may be strong enough to act as a strength member without a separate line for this purpose. A helmet that is out of balance can throw the diver’s head to one side. using silicone sealant. Manila. can be glued inside the helmet. The normal hose diameter for surface-supplied diving is 3/8 inch I. Free-flow helmets can only be used with high volume. there should be a freeflow valve included so that a high volume of breathing gas can be supplied to clear the unit if it is flooded and to adequately ventilate the unit of carbon dioxide. dangerously polluted waters. Head gear that is too buoyant will place a strain on the diver’s jaw. Communications wire should be constructed with a heavy plastic jacket that resists abrasion and punctures. 5. warrant the use of a full coverage diving helmet (see Figure 5. Masks and helmets used for surface-supplied diving should be equipped with adjustable regulators to allow the diver to tune the breathing effort based on the diver’s workload. Most diving masks and helmets today incorporate a demand regulator as well as a free-flow air system. In addition. The hose is openended at the diver and normally fitted with a #4 JIC fitting on the topside end.55 Full-Face Masks With Voice Communicators FIGURE 5. The oral/nasal mask also helps to reduce carbon dioxide build-up inside the helmet. In the event that topside gas supply is interrupted. For shallow water diving and diving in relatively warm water under good conditions. 5-34 NOAA Diving Manual . and the diver can breathe through both his nose and mouth.56 Diving Helmet The breathing gas hose must not kink and must be approved for breathing gas purposes. (internal diameter) hose. oxygen fittings cannot be joined to JIC fittings and vise versa. should never be used because it does not have the strength of the synthetics and will eventually deteriorate and need to be replaced. However.D. All full-face masks and helmets should be equipped with an equalizing device that will allow the diver to block his nose to equalize the pressure in his ears.55). such as bicycle wheel weights. heavy. The breathing gas hose is normally fitted with #6 JIC (Joint Industrial Conference) hose fittings or oxygen fittings. Either type is acceptable provided they are compatible with the fittings on the divers’ mask or helmet and the breathing gas manifold. a full-face mask is usually sufficient (see Figure 5.

which holds the system FIGURE 5. Hookah diving can be a safe. Typical uses include boat hull scrubbing or repair. which takes up far less space on a crowded deck. shallow water recovery. requires little more than a wipe down with a damp cloth. dredging.” which is the easiest method for most people to learn.6 Maintenance of Surface-Supplied Gear In a surface-supplied system. where the user needs the security of an umbilical and lifeline. The manifold block allows for attachment to a belt or harness assembly. The ends of the umbilical must be taped or capped after each day of diving to eliminate contamination of the hose. 5. and umbilicals require more extensive maintenance. The oil used to lubricate the compressor should be checked and topped off at the start of each day of operation. inexpensive. Instead of diverworn cylinders. Low-pressure compressor systems will need to have their volume tanks drained of moisture hourly during operations and again at the end of each diving day. This may not be necessary if the only breathing gas source was high-pressure cylinders. With a hookah system. The inside of the umbilical must be blown dry if used with a low-pressure compressor that pumps moisture into the hose.58 Emergency Air Cylinder Integrated With the Air Hose Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-35 . Helmets. and so on. It can be coiled in a “figure eight. or it can coiled over and under. fins. archeological work. such as the breathing gas manifold. a standard second stage demand regulator is coupled to a low-pressure air supply hose that is fed from a compressor on the surface.57 Hookah Diver With Second Stage and Lifeline Attached 5. Gear that doesn’t go in the water. there are more pieces of equipment to be maintained than when dealing with open circuit scuba.57.13 HOOKAH A very simple type of demand-mode diving known as hookah has been in use for over 50 years (see Figures 5. masks. many two-stage double hose regulators came standard with a fitting for attaching a low-pressure air source for hookah diving. and weight belt. The umbilical must be properly coiled while diving and at the end of each day.58).FIGURE 5. and good mobility.12. the umbilical should be hung up for storage to prevent other objects from being stored on top of it or dropped on it. A log must be kept of compressor hours to ensure that oil and filter changes occur on schedule.and low-pressure compressors and analyzed at least once every 6 months. 5. it should be tied with several pieces of line so it stays coiled during transport. simple hookah systems consist of a standard scuba second stage demand regulator coupled to a manifold block. and effective system for shallow water diving (generally 20 feet or less). Today. In the early days of scuba. Another common system employs the use of high-pressure cylinders with an adjustable regulator to supply the breathing air to the demand regulator in lieu of the compressor. Air samples should be taken from all high. limitless gas supply. If possible. the diver uses a standard half mask. dock and pier work. Once the umbilical is properly coiled.

the diaphragm is distorted. 20 ft. Only a few models of depth gauges can be calibrated in the field. in length overall. one side of which is a flexible diaphragm. Use a good quality second stage demand regulator that is of a balanced design and/or has an adjustable spring biasing device that allows the user to adjust for varying supply pressures.14 DEPTH GAUGES Depth gauges are small. The diaphragm model has a sealed case. As depth increases. diaphragm. Air Bubble Oil-Filled Tube Rubber Diaphragm Water Pressure 5.59). in some cases. Another feature of the manifold block is an integrated one-way valve (air non-return valve) located on the inlet side of the block. If a fitting or the air hose failed on or near the surface. Most commercially available depth gauges operate either on the capillary. Capillary depth gauges consist of a clear plastic tube that is open to the water at one end and is attached to a display that is calibrated in feet. the sudden lowering of pressure within the umbilical can. Performance and depth can be increased using a larger compressor or high-pressure storage cylinders and a pressure-reducing regulator. performance. most models must be returned to the manufacturer if repairs are needed. The emergency cylinder is usually worn on the back or chest. which causes the needle to which it is linked to move. they require more frequent calibration than Rigid Case Inlet and Filter Water Pressure FIGURE 5. For optimal breathing performance with any hookah system.secure to the user. or less. but at this point cost and complexity are on par with the use of lightweight full-face masks that offer greater safety. because most lightweight portable low-pressure compressors cannot achieve the volume and pressures needed to provide good breathing performance much deeper.59 Three Types of Depth Gauges 5-36 NOAA Diving Manual . The manifold block also has provisions for integrating a small emergency air cylinder in the event the airline gets pinched or the surface supply is interrupted. Hookahs are generally limited to relatively shallow water work. pressure-sensitive meters that are calibrated in feet (or meters) and allow divers to determine their depth while submerged (see Figure 5. Accuracy is extremely important and should be checked annually. draw lips or mouth tissues into the demand valve causing serious injury. Hookah air supply hose is usually a 1/4” to 3/8” inside diameter low-pressure hose with a minimum working pressure of 250 psig and is usually less than 50 ft. As pressure increases. Bourdon tube depth gauges are the most fragile of these types of gauges. portable. This valve is extremely important as it will prevent air from flowing up the umbilical due to a hose rupture or broken fitting near the surface. or bourdon tube principle. and the option of voice communications. the air supply hose should be kept as short as possible and the supply pressure as high as possible above the minimum recommended by the manufacturer for the demand regulator. Depth gauges are delicate instruments and must be treated carefully to avoid damage. the volume of air trapped in the tube decreases and the depth is read from the water level in the tube.

the more powerful the system.15 WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS Wireless communications systems provide an alternative to surface-supplied equipment when communications are needed by scuba divers. Most dive computers today combine the functions of the watch and depth gauge into one unit that automatically performs decompression calculations and tracks surface intervals. The electronics are carried in a small waterproof housing.” oral/nasal cavity and electronics (see Figures 5. where the scuba mask must also seal. water pressure causes a distortion of the tube. Water density differences such as those caused by thermoclines can also affect the range of a wireless system. FIGURE 5. Both bourdon tube and diaphragm depth gauges are available in models that are sealed and oil-filled for smooth. which may cause salt deposition or corrosion. reliable operation. These systems can provide both diver-to-diver and diver-to-surface communications. This may be critical for the scientific diver.the other types. Wireless communications work best in open areas where there are relatively few underwater obstructions. There are connections for the microphone and earphones.60 Half Mask Which Permits Speech Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-37 . Other factors can affect communications: • • • • • • • • • • • Gas density of the diver’s breathing gas Diver’s underwater work level Nitrogen narcosis (if the diver is breathing air) Bubble noise Regulator noise Size and shape of the speaking cavity in the diver’s mask Type of microphone Restrictions created by the diver’s hood. 5. most divers find it easier and more comfortable to wear the full-face mask. mask. 5. Although there are also systems that use a special mouthpiece to permit speech. The basic components of an electronic underwater communications system include some type of full-face mask or “half mask. finely-tuned instruments and must be used. which in turn moves a needle that indicates depth. To get the highest level of intelligibility from a wireless system. the greater the range. Depth gauges are delicate. the highest level of intelligibility of the diver’s speech will occur when the nose and mouth are in the same cavity as is the case with full-face masks. Critical features that should be evaluated in selecting a wireless system include: • VOX: Systems that include VOX do not require the diver to push a switch to transmit. stored. The ability to talk to each other makes it much easier to get the job done. To prevent this. the gauge should be stored in a jar of distilled water between dives.60. a full-face mask is preferred. • Output Power: Generally speaking. thick kelp.61 Wireless Unit Mounted to the Head Safety Harness They do not work well in a swimming pool. Open bourdon tube gauges tend to retain salt water in the tube. and straps Loss of natural feedback since the diver can't hear himself speak under water Lack of practice RF interference Communications are especially recommended when two divers must work together on a common task. or if two divers are separated by an obstruction. Since the half mask must seal in the space between the upper lip and the nose. FIGURE 5. With bourdon tubes.61). and maintained with great care.

it will have only limited value in murky. The Oring should be lubricated with a silicone grease and should be checked for debris every time the light is assembled. Most diving knives are made from stainless steel with a corrosion resistant handle of some type of plastic.63). Regardless of the power of an underwater light. the batteries should be removed and 5. night diving. or diving under ice. Additionally. Placing the speakers directly over the ear opening could result in an outer ear squeeze. Some of the systems are equipped with "lollipop" style earphones/speakers. The diver must ensure that the wireless system has a good attachment point and that the wires are routed to avoid snags.16 KNIVES Dive knives are used as tools. the longer the better. wreck diving. dried. exploring holes and crevices. but the diver must never hold his breath at any time while under water. • Operating Depth: Most units on the market will operate to at least 130 ft. They are also of value at deeper depths if it is important to see the true colors of marine life. in front of or behind the ear. not as defensive weapons against sharks or other underwater creatures (see Figure 5. he could find himself in a dangerous position. especially if they are not in constant use during the dive. (39. As with all other pieces of diving equipment. and the electronics are attached to it.• Range: Long range is not critical for two divers using the buddy system. Although floating lights are less likely to be lost. but becomes more important if the divers must communicate with other teams or a surface support station at a distance. If the diver must pry objects under water. Excess lengths of wire should be bundled together. or the knife will be prone to break. After use. Large knives should be worn in a sheath that can be mounted on the weight belt or the inside of the calf. It should not be necessary to shout while communicating. wreckage. When using wireless communications. etc. Ideally. it is impossible to place a floating light down on the bottom without having it drift away. it is important to speak slowly and distinctly in a normal tone of voice. Smaller knives are also available that can be mounted on the diver’s buoyancy compensator straps or even on a submersible pressure gauge hose. Also the transducer/receiver should not be mounted where it is covered by other equipment. Either of these locations will not pose a problem if the weight belt must be dropped. and sprayed with a corrosion inhibitor or light coat of oil. • Battery Life: Battery life is critical.63 Dive Light 5-38 NOAA Diving Manual . designed to be worn under or over a diving hood. Exhalations should be minimized while sending or receiving a signal.62). In addition. • Noise-cancelling microphone. The wireless box should never be attached to the diver’s weight belt. type of batteries (disposable or rechargeable). 5. When selecting a light. dirty waters where visibility is restricted by suspended matter. such as brightness and beam coverage. These speakers should never be placed directly over the ear opening but. • Automatic Gain Control (AGC): The system should automatically adjust itself so the volume of another diver’s voice is the same whether he is two feet away or 200 feet. a blunt tip knife is probably the best choice. and burn time. cave diving. a dive light should be neutral or just slightly negatively buoyant. all dive knives should be rinsed with fresh water. medic shears are quite popular items that can be easily stowed to cut and “snip” through light line and medium line. there are several factors to consider. the steel of the blade should extend all the way through the length of the handle as one piece. The knife should have a sharp blade for cutting lines and nets that could entangle the diver. FIGURE 5. instead. • Weight: Lighter and smaller systems are easier to use.17 DIVE LIGHTS A water/pressure-proof diving light is an important item of equipment when divers are operating in areas of low light (see Figure 5. There are many different types of knives and the diver should select the one most appropriate to his work. lights should be washed with fresh water after every use. size and shape. they are more awkward to handle under water. When not in use. • Automatic On/Off Control versus Manual On/Off.62 Dive Knives With Serrated Edges FIGURE 5. Lights are used most frequently for photography. If the diver needs to ditch his belt.6 m). Ideally. • Controls: Configuration and ease of use.

and increasingly. and spare light bulbs and batteries should be available at the dive site. However. Some lights today have dual bulbs that can be individually selected under water if one bulb burns out. Sound signaling devices have the advantage of gaining the divemaster’s attention even if he is not looking in the direction of the diver when the device is operated. Compasses do not have to be recalibrated and the only maintenance needed is a fresh-water rinse after use. Electronic strobes are the next step up from the simplicity of a mirror or inflatable tube.65 Inflatable Tube Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-39 . aboard boats. Another simple signaling device is the inflatable tube that can be rolled up and stored in the BC pocket (see Figure 5.64). unbreakable mirrors that can be carried in the pocket of a buoyancy compensator. 5. GPS receivers are very common in airplanes. common. Digital compasses are now available that are highly accurate and can be used to plan complex courses and automatically compute reciprocals. attached by a clip to the BC. it is difficult or impossible to spot a solo diver on the surface. compasses should be worn on the wrist opposite from the diver's watch or other instruments. Electronic compasses will need their batteries replaced according to use. reliable directional reference point. all flares have a shelflife and must be replaced at their expiration date. A device that is too short or can’t be properly inflated is of no value. it should be checked thoroughly to ensure proper operation.18 COMPASSES AND NAVIGATION An underwater compass consists of a small magnetic compass that is housed in a water/pressure-proof case and is worn attached to a diver's wrist by a band. GPS units for diving are not selfcontained.65). Several diving equipment manufacturers make waterproof. especially in conditions of reduced visibility. but ordinary glass mirrors can break and are unsafe to carry while diving. a visual device may be seen at a greater distance than some sounds may be heard. signaling devices are considered essential pieces of safety equipment. especially for use on scientific diving projects. Flares can be extremely dangerous if used improperly and can cause severe personal injury. Under heavy and even light sea conditions. flares are another option that may be considered (see Figure 5. Compass models are available with side viewing windows that allow a diver to read them while holding them horizontally in front of them when swimming. 5. This is a desirable feature. even if the flares aren’t taken in the water. GPS for under water use will undoubtedly become more FIGURE 5. Before a diving light is used. The Global Positioning System is a satellite network that circles the world and provides very precise navigation information to receivers on the surface of the earth and at sea. Various manufacturers produce flares that are specifically designed for divers. Conventional mechanical compasses do not provide precise bearings. or nylon and feature either oral or mechanical inflators. whereas. or integrated in the diver’s console. Strobes have the added advantage that they can be used at night as well as during the day. The tubes are made of PVC. compressors.19 SIGNAL DEVICES For divers working at great distances from shore or in strong currents. The human voice does not carry very far. it should be tested to determine if it can be inflated to the point that it will be rigid enough to be seen above the waves.stored separately. or mounted in the diver’s console (see Figure 5. Before purchasing any inflatable signaling device. To limit magnetic interference. the diver must be close enough for the device to be heard.64 Compass Attached to Mechanical Retractor FIGURE 5.66). The batteries should be replaced any time they show any signs of running low. or outboard motors. but require surface transponders to beam the signal to the diver under water (see Chapter 10). Underwater GPS (Global Positioning System) units are now available which can help locate a diver’s position on the bottom with great precision. Strobes can also be used to mark an anchor line under water when visibility is good. especially above the sound of strong winds. but they do provide a convenient. Compasses are useful for underwater navigation. urethane. The simplest and least expensive visual signaling device is a mirror. in automobiles. At the time of this writing. It must be remembered that. For signaling at greater distances with more visual impact.

Most will work with almost any power inflator on the market and can be heard up to a mile away. The simplest tool used for protection is the “shark billy. These devices connect between the diver’s low pressure inflator hose and BC power or dry-suit inflators. The disadvantage is that it is heavy and is approximately 20 pounds negative in the water. There are different styles of suits available depending on the type of shark the diver expects to encounter. Another form of protection is the “shark suit. Any whistle that is to be used in the water must be waterproof.FIGURE 5. 5. rather than offensive weaponry to kill sharks.66 Packaged Flare A whistle is the simplest sound signaling device. it should be fitted with an inflatable collar that will provide buoyancy in the event the scooter loses power. Whistles have a limited range compared to other more powerful sound generating devices. but most sharks. In Australia some abalone divers are using a motorized version of the shark cage to allow coverage of a greater area under a safer condition.” The suit resembles the chain mail worn by medieval knights and provides protection from shark bites from most sharks.67 Air-Powered Horns Connected to the Low-Pressure Power Inflator Most of the emphasis today in working with sharks is on defensive strategies. Ideally. to prevent injury if sharks are aggressive. are not interested in human beings.67).20 SCOOTERS Electrically powered scooters.69) are available today that are much lighter and portable compared to previous models. Several mechanical models allow the diver to signal effectively under water. FIGURE 5. but they do not permit the diver to swim to different observation points. Some suits are backed with Kevlar® plates to distribute the pressure of bites from large sharks to help avoid bone breakage. with a few exceptions. Shark cages (see Figure 5.68 Underwater Scooter 5-40 NOAA Diving Manual . Some models of whistles will actually produce sound under water that can be heard for short distances.68). There are several devices that can be used effectively. Care must be taken when using scooters to avoid descents or ascents which are too rapid. sharks are not nearly the threat that divers once thought. If the scooter does not float on its own. a diver can cover much more ground without fatigue than is possible under his own leg power. With a scooter. also known as diver propulsion vehicles (DPVs). 5. The advantage to this type of suit is that it is portable and moves with the diver. in most cases.” A stick similar in length to a broomstick that is used to butt an inquisitive shark that approaches.21 SHARK DEFENSE Although any large animal under water can injure a diver. Several devices are now available that use low pressure air from the diver’s cylinder to operate an air horn (see Figure 5. are available that can help make exploration and survey work much more productive for the free swimming scuba diver (see Figure 5. FIGURE 5. the scooter will be fitted with a compass and depth gauge so that the diver can see this information at a glance while operating the scooter rather than having to stop to check his position. Certainly the potential for danger always exists when working with sharks. Cages offer better protection than a suit.

or there are slates specifically designed to be worn on the diver’s forearm. paddle boards.70 Electrical Shark Deterrent Device Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-41 . and buoys. FIGURE 5. Ordinary lead pencils can be used. depending upon the needs of the operation. It takes skill to use offensive devices properly to get a clean kill and avoid accidents that may injure the diver handling the device or his partner. The surface support float can take many forms. and watch that are mounted across the top. they should be attached to the diver with a loop or lanyard made of sturdy line to keep them from being lost. In addition. When slates are used. Some divers customize their underwater slates by equipping them with a compass.01 cm] thick) may be purchased in sizes up to 6 x 10 ft.FIGURE 5. They may be cut as needed.8 x 3.3 or 0. The disadvantage is that they require battery power and will operate for a maximum of 75 minutes before they must be recharged.22 UNDERWATER SLATES A slate is a useful piece of equipment when underwater observations are to be recorded or when divers need a means of communication beyond hand signals. Semi-matte plastic sheets can be placed on a clip board. in a ring binder. These sheets (about 1/32 in. a support station for gear. A simple and useful slate can be constructed from a 1/8 or 1/4 inch (0. and marks can be erased or wiped off with a rubber eraser or an abrasive cleanser.71). and a probe which attaches to the diver’s fin or thigh. inner tubes. and some species of sharks in certain areas are protected by law. body surfing boards.23 SURFACE SUPPORT/MARKER FLOAT If divers are working off the beach. These can be fitted with small anchors and waterproof compartments for storing accessories. from approaching. surface marker floats provide an excellent means of tracking divers from the surface. rather than from a boat. These devices consist of an electronic package that attaches to the diver’s cylinder. 5.69 A Shark Cage and Shark Suit Electrical shark deterrent devices (see Figure 5. a control unit worn on the arm.6 cm) thick piece of acrylic plastic that has been lightly sand-papered on both sides. some type of surface support float is recommended. (1. Sharks are long-lived creatures that are slow to reproduce. Offensive devices that are used to kill sharks are not recommended unless there is no other alternative. killing a shark in the wild can be extremely difficult.0 m). Surface support floats are useful for many purposes including providing a place to rest while on the surface. these slates can be used with an ordinary lead or grease pencils (see Figure 5. including white sharks. and no sanding is required. The advantages to electrical shark deterrent devices are that they will not harm the shark or the diver and they allow the diver to swim. [0. FIGURE 5. When towed.70) are available that surround a diver with an electrical current that discourage most sharks. Popular surface support floats include kayaks. depth gauge.71 Underwater Slate Used for Note -Taking 5. and a place to hoist a diver’s down flag (the red and white striped dive flag in North America or the blue and white “Alpha” flag used internationally)..

Once the computer is on. just as it is possible for this to happen while using dive tables. divers should be conservative in the way they use a dive computer. It is always possible for the diver to suffer from decompression sickness while using a dive computer. depth gauge. shorter surface intervals. a diver may make dives that violate the computer model and good diving practice. and longer waits before flying in an aircraft after diving.24 DIVE COMPUTERS Dive computers are electronic devices that are used to track a diver’s depth and time and make calculations that provide a diver with information regarding impending or actual decompression obligations. that contains the current information for the dive or series of dives in progress • A display that gives the diver the visual information of the status of his dive Some computers must be turned on by pushing a button or bridging a set of contacts on the case. For some divers. Dive computers are based on mathematical models or “algorithms. however. it will track the diver from the moment he descends below a specific depth (normally 4-6 ft. In addition. they may also provide other information including such measures as ascent rate. Different computers are based on distinct algorithms that vary in how “aggressive” or “conservative” they are in regards to decompression. Aggressive computers tend to allow for longer bottom times. longer surface intervals. Some computers will track all of these parameters and automatically adjust the diver’s decompression obligation based on a complex formula that takes these factors into account. and oxygen exposure. More conservative computers provide shorter bottom times. water temperature. or has other factors that may affect his decompression obligation. if a different model is used it will usually work quite differently from the computer previously used. that the computer cannot determine exactly what is happening within the body of an individual diver during a dive. and some event causes the diver to make an emergency ascent. Most dive computers include the following components at a minimum (see Figure 5. For this reason. Even if the diver is familiar with one type of dive computer.73).5. that may have a variety of battery configurations • An internal clock to keep track of time (some computers will also track the date) • A microprocessor to perform the calculations • ROM or Read Only Memory that provides the instructions to the microprocessor • RAM or Random Access Memory. dive computers have replaced the use of a watch. Even if the diver uses the computer properly. breathing gas consumption rate.” which are an attempt to describe the absorption and elimination of the nitrogen within the human body (see Figures 5. and decompression tables for computing no-decompression times or actual decompression obligations. even though such a dive or series of dives is more likely to lead to decompression sickness. dehydrated.73 Dive Computer Console 5-42 NOAA Diving Manual .72 Air-Integrated Hoseless Dive Computer FIGURE 5. 5. It must be remembered. In addition. Other computers turn on automatically as soon as the computer is submerged in the water. If the diver “rides” the computer right up to the no-decompression limits. out of shape. It is essential for the diver to read and understand the manual supplied with the dive computer in order to use it properly. and follows a conservative dive profile.74): • A pressure transducer that senses the depth • An analog to digital converter that converts the depth or pressure information into digital information • A power supply. Some computers can actually be adjusted by the diver to be either more conservative or liberal. decompression sickness is more likely to occur. and shorter “no-fly” times after diving.) FIGURE 5.72. and most computers will still continue to function. The dive computer cannot make adjustments for a diver who is particularly cold. decompression sickness can still occur. tired.

should the diver need to deviate from his planned dive. The computer will track the diver’s depth to the foot and will continuously calculate nitrogen absorption and elimination for multi-level dives. The advantage of this type of computer is that it provides more information. It should be noted that these systems can be sensitive to the signal from an electronic underwater strobe which may temporarily interrupt the transmission of cylinder pressure information. However.75). Some make these adjustments automatically. The computer also eliminates the need for carrying multiple instruments for time and depth measurement. In addition. the computer will automatically make the calculations for his new dive profile. The disadvantage is that if the computer fails.” They use a transmitter to send the pressure information from the first stage regulator to the computer. computers are typically much more liberal in calculating maximum dive times on multilevel dives and will provide the diver with a longer overall dive than the tables will usually allow. The computer will show a progressively shallower ceiling that the diver must adhere to in order to successfully complete his decompression. Another major advantage to using a dive computer is that the computer does not make mistakes in making its mathematical calculations as people are prone to do. This type of computer will typically monitor the diver’s breathing gas consumption rate. as well as computers that can be used for nitrox or other gas mixtures. The dive computer does not calculate bottom times based on depth readings taken in ten foot intervals like most dive tables do. the diver must assume that his entire dive took place at the deepest depth. which can be worn on the diver’s wrist or attached to the diver’s safety harness (see Figure 5. all of the diver’s instrumentation is lost. When decompression calculations are based on traditional decompression tables. Dive computers are programmed for very slow ascent rates and will warn the diver when an ascent rate violation is taking place. Some computers today are integrated with an electronic submersible pressure gauge so that the computer not only performs decompression calculations but also displays the diver’s cylinder pressure digitally. while others must be set by the diver. When decompression is required.Pressure Transducer Analog-toDigital Converter Internal Clock RAM Microprocessor ROM DISPLAY OF DIVE INFORMATION FIGURE 5. the computer feeds this new information into the microprocessor and automatically calculates the remaining time for the new depth. especially during multi-level dives where nitrogen elimination takes place as the diver moves progressively shallower. This is especially useful Diver and Diving Support Equipment Battery 5-43 . There are computers that are designed solely for air diving. Many dive computers today can be connected to a personal computer and the entire dive can be downloaded and printed out for a permanent record. or accidentally overshoot his maximum depth. Should the diver violate the maximum depth capability of the computer or the required decompression. It may also show remaining dive time based upon the amount of gas remaining in the dive cylinder if this is less than the allowable bottom time for decompression purposes. which may “lock” the diver out from using the computer for 24 hours. Another variation on the breathing gas integrated dive computer is that some models are now available that are “hoseless. Although conservative. The computer will take a reading of the diver’s depth every few seconds or minutes and continuously calculate the allowable remaining bottom time. the computer will display a “ceiling” or a minimum depth to which the diver must ascend to start decompression.74 Schematic of Dive Computer Components and throughout his dive. and further integrates the diver’s instruments into a single package. This type of system helps eliminate hose clutter. this assumption imposes a penalty on the diver in regards to his bottom time. Most dive computers are actually more conservative in their allowance for maximum bottom time than the decompression tables are for a dive that takes place at one continuous depth. most computers will go into another type of violation mode. Most of the computers on the market today can be adjusted for altitude diving. There are numerous types of computers available and almost all are extremely compact. As the diver moves deeper or shallower.

it must not be switched off until it indicates complete outgassing has occurred or 18 hours have elapsed. divers using a dive computer should make a stop between 10 and 30 ft.FIGURE 5. conference presentations. If the dive computer fails at any time during the dive. 1989) has developed a number of guidelines for dive computer use. The integration of photography and video with the personal computer has allowed scientists to use this data in ways never before possible. the divers must follow the most conservative dive computer. transmitted over 5-44 NOAA Diving Manual . (18. at the maximum planned depth. In surface mode it continues to display the surface interval and temperature from the last dive until the next dive or until 24 hours have elapsed.76). For example. or other important items. but they are especially useful for deep. These data-recording techniques provide permanent visual records that can be used to document species. The instrument turns itself on automatically when it is immersed and tracks the diver’s depth. 9. Whenever practical.25 BOTTOM TIMERS In lieu of a dive computer. or series of dives. it is strongly recommended that each diver be equipped with a primary and a back-up computer. 10. A partial list of these recommendations is listed below: 1. If ascent is too rapid. some divers use a similar instrument that tracks and displays a diver’s depth and bottom time. interactive displays. For repetitive and multi-level dives.26 UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO Underwater photography and video are two of the most important tools available to the diving scientist (see Figure 5. When using a dive computer. effects of pollution. displays maximum depth. Dive computers are used for all types of diving. Photographs can also be digitally enhanced.0 and 9. start the dive. the diver is advised to slow down. books. 3. On the surface it provides a record of the pertinent data from the last nine dives. the dive must be terminated and appropriate surfacing procedures should be initiated immediately. On any given dive. 5. 4. 2. followed by subsequent dives of shallower exposures. FIGURE 5. at the completion of the dive. and water temperature. or other media. archaeological sites. A diver should not dive for 18 hours before activating a dive computer to use it to control his diving. 6. Only one dive on the dive computer in which the NDL of the tables or the dive computer has been exceeded may be made in any 18-hour period. In these situations. 7.77). especially for dives below 60 ft. The American Academy of Underwater Sciences (Lang and Hamilton eds. Once the dive computer is in use. non-emergency ascents are to be made at the rate specified for the make and model of dive computer being used. Each diver relying on a dive computer to plan dives and indicate or determine decompression status must have his own unit.75 Hoseless Dive Computers in diving accidents for tracking the exact sequence of the dive(s) that may have caused the accident.1 m) for five minutes. Multiple deep dives require special consideration. photographs can now be integrated with databases to provide a quick visual reference for each record in the database. The instrument compiles an enormous amount of data into a compact information center.3 m). Visual records can then be incorporated into scientific papers. repetitive dives or dives made over multiple days. (3. elapsed dive time. as well as displays the essential information that’s required for the calculation of the dive (see Figure 5. geological features. ascent rate (displayed as a percentage of the allowable ascent rate for any given depth). 5. 8.76 Digital Depth Gauge 5. whichever comes first.

Today. 5. For example. It is possible to record satisfactory underwater video in most instances without the use of any auxiliary lighting system. documenting animal behavior is best done with video. No special equipment is needed to view a still FIGURE 5.79). as is conveying the expanse and spatial relationships between features of a large shipwreck.26.26. It is also possible to “grab” a single frame of video from a recording for print purposes. These include: self-contained underwater cameras. In addition. capturing subjects on underwater video is usually much easier than producing quality still images.photographic print. or digitally archived for convenient storage. This section is intended as an introduction to underwater photography and video to help the diving scientist understand which equipment to select for a particular project. and housings for land cameras (see Figure 5. Low-cost video editing allows schools to produce professional-looking training videos at a fraction of the cost to have them produced outside. the sharpness of the lenses for some of these cameras exceeds that available when using a land camera in a housing. The compact nature of self-contained underwater cameras is a major advantage when traveling. there will be applications for both techniques. or when diving in strong currents or tight quarters. In many cases. It is highly recommended that any diver who needs to create underwater photographs take a course in the subject which includes actual dives under the supervision of a competent underwater photography instructor. Self-contained underwater cameras are generally the smallest underwater still camera systems (see Figure 5. It takes practice and skill to produce high quality still underwater photographs. This is true because the video camera sees much better than the still camera (or human eye) does under water and is far more light sensitive. Conversely. and all the controls. Still photography is usually best suited for documenting individual creatures. one is usually better suited than the other. It takes dedication and practice to produce good quality still underwater photographs. although for specific tasks.78 Typical Camera Housing Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-45 .77 Underwater Video Camera the Internet. There are numerous books that explain how to create photographs with particular camera systems. Video Both still photography and video have their place on most scientific projects. Prints (or prints from transparencies/ slides) can be included in scientific papers or books or can be enlarged for display purposes. such as the interior of a shipwreck. The camera body is made watertight by a series of O-rings that seal the film compartment. there are cameras available that can record live action video. While the quality of the still image produced by most video cameras is generally not very high at the time of this writing. FIGURE 5. Each type has advantages and limitations and is suited to particular applications. or small features of a specific site. while still photography almost always requires some additional lighting.2 Types of Underwater Camera Systems for Still Photography There are two main types of underwater camera systems for still photography. 5. it will undoubtedly improve steadily. the lens.78). Video is best suited to dynamic events and situations.1 Still Photography vs. artifacts. as well as produce individual still digital images.

the larger the flash unit. In most cases. the more power.1 msw) in clear water or in turbid water or at night. the underwater photographer has an almost unlimited number of lenses that can be used. which can make a housing worthless if the camera breaks and cannot be repaired or has been discontinued.8 m). For dives deeper than 20 fsw (6. Housings are larger and heavier than self-contained underwater cameras. which do not allow you to see your exact composition through the lens. the scientist must understand how to use the available light and balance it with artificial light to produce photographs that reveal both color and detail in a subject. To use this technique effectively the diver must use electronic flash.80). 5. FIGURE 5. housings are bulkier and larger than the self-contained systems. a properly constructed housing may be completely neutrally buoyant under water. which almost always relates directly to the size of the flash. Underwater camera housings are available for many different types of topside cameras. and the ports for these are normally readily available. When color detail is important.80 Electronic Flash for Underwater Cameras 5-46 NOAA Diving Manual . One of the most difficult tasks in producing a usable underwater photograph is to frame the subject so that there is contrast between the subject and the background. some electronic underwater flash is almost always required for still underwater photography. These housings may be made from plastic or aluminum. To be successful in underwater photography. Still. light. this is rarely a problem since most underwater photography is done with either wide angle lenses. An increasing number of housings are available for digital cameras and video systems. (1. Electronic flash units are rated according to their power.3 Light and Color With conventional still photography using film. The best way to do this with larger subjects is to shoot at an upward angle. With a housing. medium telephoto. One drawback to these systems is that the manufacturers of digital and video cameras tend to obsolete their products very quickly. or macro lenses. there must be light to produce an acceptable underwater photograph..79 Self-Contained Underwater Cameras The disadvantage of self-contained underwater cameras is that the selection of lenses available for these cameras is usually quite limited.26. colors will usually appear muted and washed out.26. it delivers. Fortunately. However. However. colors “disappear” as the diver descends and the first colors to go are the reds and yellows. i. As explained in the chapter on diving physics. The limited lens selection means that the self-contained camera does not normally produce high quality photographs topside.FIGURE 5.e. beyond distances of 6 ft. and these cameras are usually rangefinders. provided there is a lens port that will accommodate the particular lens desired. even with the most powerful flash systems. from 35 mm through medium format. There are several manufacturers of underwater flash systems (or strobes) that make compact units that provide sufficient light for most underwater photography situations.4 Electronic Flash Electronic flash is the most economical and portable method of providing light for still underwater photographs (see Figure 5. 5. so that the subject is backlit. artificial lighting is essential.

or journals. the best way to record an image is with color negative film. contrasty. Many of the flash systems on the market today are designed to work in the TTL. Transparencies can be projected and used at scientific conferences or made into large backlit images for display purposes. 5. such as ISO 400-800. the type of film being used. If possible. to a lesser extent. In the manual mode. Color transparencies. magazines. colorful prints. such as ISO 100 or ISO 200. These systems can help make underwater photography simpler for the novice.” mode. such as ISO 64. Shooting wide angle shots or fast action will require a higher speed film. To produce photographic prints for a museum exhibit. most underwater photographers use some type of specially designed tray to mount the camera and which provides a mounting point for the underwater flash units. but require more photographic skill to produce an acceptable exposure. Finally. more versatile flash systems will be equipped with variable power settings. each of the flash heads should be no closer than 18 inches to the lens of the camera for still photography. and. will produce sharp. To get consistent results it is important to stick with one type of film and learn its characteristics. High resolution color image files such as those used in books and magazines are extremely large. but not the particles suspended in the water between the subject and the camera. and Digital In underwater still photography. this will create a cone of light that illuminates only the subject. Publishers of books and magazines prefer transparencies to produce the color separations used in printing. a dark shadow area or an extreme highlight will produce almost no usable information. a user detachable cable is preferred so that in the event the cable fails the entire flash need not be returned to the manufacturer for repair. The big advantage to a digital image is that it can theoretically be stored forever with no loss in image quality when compared to a print or transparency. a relatively slow speed film is used. This film has the widest exposure latitude. Slides. the photographer should know how the images will be used to help choose the most effective way to produce an image. in certain situations. High-speed color negative films. extreme close-ups of small creatures like snails or nudibranchs. Digital cameras have an extremely narrow exposure range. Faster films are available but should only be used when absolutely necessary. which provides greater control. making correct exposures with digital cameras even more critical than with a conventional camera with transparency film. With a digital camera. In addition. or “through the lens. Experienced underwater photographers will often prefer to use their cameras and flash systems in the manual mode. This means that the film must be precisely exposed to get an acceptable image.” or light reflecting off particulate matter in the water.5 Trays and Flash Arms It is impossible to juggle multiple flash units and a camera without some method of connecting them all together. which means that the exposure can vary over quite a range yet still produce an acceptable print.The amount of light needed to take a picture will be determined by the size of the subject to be photographed. should the TTL system fail. the amount of available natural light. the images must be fairly high resolution. To do this effectively. These units “talk” to the electronics inside the camera and automatically regulate the amount of light produced by the flash. To shoot macro images. Color transparencies can also be used to make color prints or black and white prints. or be used to produce images in books. Using two electronic strobes.26.6 The Image Capture Medium: Prints. The flash is usually either pointed straight ahead or even slightly away from the subject. i. the camera-to-subject distance. The most popular systems for this type of work are articulated “arms” with multiple joints and connectors. In selecting an electronic underwater flash. Photographers who switch film constantly will have a more difficult time producing acceptable images. 5. projected using a laptop computer and projection system.. are the most versatile type of images. Each method of capturing an image has its applications. The main flash may be more powerful than the second smaller flash which is used for “fill. At least one spare cable should be carried on any dive trip so that diving operations need not be suspended in the event of a cable failure. To avoid “backscatter. the only way to produce photos will be in the manual mode. Most experienced photographers use more than one flash to provide evenly balanced lighting with no shadows or dark areas in the image. the TTL system in most cameras can be “fooled” by certain lighting situations. even many of the smaller underwater flash systems will provide more than enough light for most photographic situations. To use digital images in print. web sites. ideally the system will be capable of both TTL and manual exposures. which means large files must be stored in the computer system. Producing a good color transparency requires more skill on the photographer’s part because the film has a narrow exposure latitude.e. Digital images can be used to produce photographic prints. since the images they produce will have a “grainy” appearance. or slides.26. With the efficiency of today’s underwater flash systems.” Some type of cable system is normally required to connect the flash to the camera. leaving the underwater photographer with an improperly exposed photo. Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-47 . There is little room for error when using transparency film.

A blue fish photographed in front of a yellow sponge will be easily seen.7 Basic Techniques for Still Photography To be successful in creating photographs to record scientific information under water. This technique will provide back lighting.82). Any of these materials is considered acceptable. To speed up the learning curve with new or unfamiliar photographic equipment.5. the cameras and housings for video today are as compact or smaller than the underwater camera systems for still photography. The current cameras on the market are extremely compact and user friendly. as they are in any other aspect of data collection in scientific diving. which should be considered in selecting which tool is most appropriate for a particular project. The greater the contrast there is between the subject and the background. it is important to get as close as possible to the subject of the photograph. f-stop. the more definition will be seen in the subject. 5. Underwater camera systems are somewhat delicate pieces of equipment that require careful postdive maintenance and meticulous predive preparation. In addition. In many cases.81). but a yellow fish in front of a yellow sponge will be difficult to make out. it takes time to sit and watch a video. Tall subjects. This is a preferable arrangement because it helps eliminate potential leaks that could flood the housing and ruin the camera. Systems that are improperly prepared or maintained can ruin the chances of capturing a good underwater image at the very start of the dive. leaving the subject in shadow with details that must be “filled in” with electronic flash (see Figure 5. 5-48 NOAA Diving Manual . Some video systems have optics that permit the scientist to select either wide angle or macro images on the same dive without having to surface to change lenses or ports.26. Many of the housings that are currently available for video use external magnetically controlled switches to operate the camera mechanism rather than mechanically linked controls that physically penetrate the housing. New video cameras and recording modes are constantly being developed. video must be edited. This is the best way to learn to make proper exposures. however. There are limitations to using video. the subject should fill the frame of the image.26. These systems provide tremendous versatility.8 Video Cameras and Housings Video is a dynamic tool that can be extremely useful to the diving scientist (see Figure 5. Probably the single most important aspect in still underwater photography is proper maintenance and setup of the underwater camera system. it is wise to keep a log of each exposure including shutter speed. compared to a still photograph which can be viewed FIGURE 5. To produce a vibrant. although some fiberglass and plastic housings are also available. Video is also not as portable as still photographs. Getting detail in an underwater photograph can be difficult if the subject is not positioned against a background that provides contrast. good diving skills are essential. Shooting at an extreme upward angle will help to provide contrast and eliminate particulate matter in photographs. Ideally. watching video requires a VCR and monitor. Most video housings are made of aluminum. such as people or kelp forests should usually be photographed vertically rather than horizontally. which takes considerable time and additional equipment. This will allow photographers to fill the frame with the subject.81 Upward Angle Shot Utilizing Natural Light at a glance. and flash setting and compare it against the results. It is an extremely powerful medium that can be used to illustrate a concept or event in a way that words and still photographs cannot always match. Good buoyancy control and a high degree of comfort in the water are fundamental in underwater photography. To be effective. properly exposed image. This can be referred back to when photographing under similar conditions to produce more dependable results.

so that any water that is trapped by the O-ring in the camera or housing door will not run down inside the camera body. especially in salt water. fresh water for a minimum of 20 minutes. Even a novice underwater photographer can capture acceptable underwater video images with little or no experience. away from heat and UV light sources. the film must be rewound prior to opening the camera body. sand. It is essential to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the correct assembly of any housing or self-contained underwater camera. Always open the camera or housing back with the lens of the camera facing up. once the camera has been properly installed in the housing. Never use compressed air to blow water off the camera body or housing because this technique can blow water past the O-rings and into the camera body. and the O-rings must be lubricated with O-ring grease and installed.If it isn’t possible to get close to a subject. disk. FIGURE 5. Prior to diving. Unlike using a still camera. remove the O-ring from the body door and dry the O-ring grove with a soft cloth or paper towel. or other debris. when salts solidify. After the camera has been rinsed and thoroughly dried. To completely frame a tall subject the camera operator must move away from the object.26. batteries must be installed. each of the camera controls and adjustments should be operated for at least a minute to ensure that the salt water is displaced by fresh water. in most cases. it must be opened to remove the film. it may be necessary to use the zoom. the camera should be soaked in a tub of clean. or media card. video cameras must always be held horizontally. dirt. longer if possible. Following every dive. the camera must be reloaded with film or media. Remove any batteries from the camera between trips. store the O-rings in a sealed plastic bag. Rinsing the camera with a hose is not an adequate method of removing the salts that can accumulate down inside the space between the controls and the camera body or housing. the better the image will be. Between dive trips. The most fundamental instruction for the novice underwater videographer is to move the camera very slowly. In most cases.82 Video Camera System 5. Diver and Diving Support Equipment 5-49 . and each of the seals and their grooves must be clean of hair. Remove any other user serviceable O-rings and soak them in a pan of fresh water. While the camera is soaking in fresh water. In addition. If this is not done and the camera is allowed to dry. but zooms should be used sparingly. the camera will do almost everything for the diver automatically. Only a thin film of grease should be applied to the O-rings. 5. Use a soft towel or cloth to dry the camera or housing prior to opening it. the closer the camera is to the subject.10 Camera Maintenance The maintenance procedures for self-contained underwater cameras and housings are basically the same. After the film or other media has been removed. When the camera is moved too quickly it becomes difficult for the viewer to follow the action. With a conventional film camera.26. the crystals are quite hard and can cut O-rings.9 Basic Video Techniques Shooting video under water is much simpler than shooting still photographs. As in underwater still photography. With most systems there is little more to do than hit the record button and zoom the lens. the salts will solidify and cause the camera to corrode. causing the camera or housing to leak.

NOTES 5-50 NOAA Diving Manual .

S. Visit our Web site at www. U. U. Department of Commerce.gov.ntis.S. This CD-ROM product is produced and distributed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). . Department of Commerce and Best Publishing Company.The NOAA Diving Manual was prepared jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

. . . . . . . . .5 Loss from View of Descent or Distance Line .1. . . . . . .1 Fouling . . . . . . . . .6. . .6. . . .1. .4 6. . . . . . 2 Selecting the Dive Team . .6-11 . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6. . . . . . . 8 Umbilical Diving from Small Boats . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Ascent . . . .6. . . . . . . . .6. .1. . . . . . . . . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Rates of Air Flow . . . . .4 Loss of Communication or Contact with the Diver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 6. . . .1. . . . . . .3 Loss of Primary Air Supply . . .1. . . . . . . . . .1. . . . . . .1 Ventilation . .8 6.3 6. .6. . .6. . . . . . . .1. . . . . .5 6. . . . .1. . . 7 Postdive Procedures . .8 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Planning the Dive . . . . . . .6. . . .8 6. . . . . . . . . . . .1 6. . . . . . . . .6. . . . .5. . . . . . . . .6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . . . . . . 4 Tending the Surface-Supplied Diver . . . . .6. . . . . . .6 Falling . . . . .1 6. . . . . . .6.6. . .6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 6. .9 6. . . . . . .8 6. .0 6. . . . .Surface-Supplied Diving 6 PAGE SECTION 6. . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . . . . . .13 Supply Pressure Requirements— Demand Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Supply Pressure Requirements— Free-Flow Systems . 5 The Dive . . . . . . . . . . . .6-11 6.6. . .6-11 6.6. . . . . . . . .6-10 6. . . . . . . .6. . . . . . .1.1. . . .7 6. . . . . . . . . .1 SURFACE-SUPPLIED DIVING PROCEDURES . . . . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.1. . . .9 6. . . . .7 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 GENERAL . . . . .1. . . . . . . . .7 6. . . . . .8 6. . . . .1. . . . .6. . . . . . . . .1. . .1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.6. . .6. . 6 Diver Emergencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Umbilical Diving From Ships . . 3 Preparing for the Dive .2 Blowup . . . .6. . . .1.6-11 6. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Basic Air Supply Systems . . .6. . . . . . . .

and from the beach. FIGURE 6. ships.0 GENERAL One of the diving modes of choice for underwater work that requires the diver to remain submerged for extended periods of time is surface-supplied diving. the tasks involved in achieving these goals. the diver's breathing mixture is supplied from the surface by means of a flexible hose.1.1 Planning the Dive The success of any dive depends on careful predive planning. The advantages of surface-supplied diving over scuba diving are that it: • Provides a direct physical link to the diver • Permits hard-wire communication between the diver and the surface • Provides an assured continuous breathing gas supply and thus. thus. longer bottom time • Provides depth control Another advantage of the surface-supplied mode is that it can be launched from a variety of support platforms (see Figure 6.Surface-Supplied Diving 6. small boats. • The drag weight of the umbilical.1 Support Platform 6. This section describes some of the techniques and procedures used by scientific divers engaged in routine underwater work operations using surface-supplied equipment. In surface-supplied diving. barges. 6 6. • The large amount of equipment required to support surface-supplied diving. which must consider the objectives of the dive.1 SURFACE-SUPPLIED DIVING PROCEDURES The surface-supplied air diving mode is used by divers because it gives them the flexibility they need to perform many different underwater tasks. including piers. divers using this mode have a continuous supply of breathing gas. The disadvantages of this mode. environmental conditions (both surface and under water). hazardous activities that may be taking place in the area of the diving 6-1 . compared with the scuba mode are: • The surface-supplied diver's mobility and operational range are restricted by the length of the umbilical.1). The surface-supplied mode is generally used when divers need to remain under water for an extended period of time to accomplish the dive's objectives.

BUT IS NOT LIMITED TO SHAPES. A RIGID REPLICA OF THE INTERNATIONAL CODE FLAG ÒAÓ NOT LESS THAN ONE METER IN HEIGHT SHOULD BE EXHIBITED DURING ALL DIVING OPERATIONS. Different environmental conditions affect members of the dive team differently. working in an area with a muddy and silty bottom can be dangerous. the dive supervisor should complete this checklist (or one adapted to the specific conditions of a particular dive) before deciding on personnel and equipment needs. in surf. pneumofathometer. ice. Dive depth must be determined before the dive begins. By comparison. a sandy bottom allows maximum mobility.2 is a checklist that can be used to evaluate environmental conditions that may affect the dive. To obtain an accurate depth profile of the area of the dive. observations can be made before the dive using remote sensing devices. a series of depth measurements must be plotted. OR PLACARDS. underwater obstacles. in some instances. and the availability of emergency assistance. however. The underwater environment can influence many aspects of a dive. surge condition. Methods of measuring depth that may be used include lead line sounding. THIS MAY INCLUDE. Air temperature and wind conditions at the surface may also have a greater effect on the tender and other surface support personnel than on the diver because these individuals are more exposed than the diver to surface conditions. It is important to remember. the personnel needed to carry out the dive. Depth readings on maps or charts are useful for general screening purposes. the diver may 6-2 NOAA Diving Manual . or other unusual environmental conditions can affect planning for some dives. or shipmounted fathometer. divers are generally not affected by surface waves or swells except when entering or exiting the water. AN APPROPRIATE WARNING DISPLAY SHALL BE EXHIBITED NEAR THE WORK SITE IN CLEAR SIGHT OF ALL PERSONNEL IN THE NEAR VICINITY. divers operating in very shallow waters. high-resolution sonar. the schedule for the dive. or in exceptionally large waves can be affected by wave action. For example. One of the more accurate methods is the diver’s pneumo-hose.operation. and the diver’s movements do not stir up so much sediment that visibility is restricted. however. from crew selection to choice of diving equipment. Figure 6. LIGHTS. the equipment needed to conduct the dive safely and efficiently. that the surface crew should be able to operate with maximum efficiency throughout the dive. Samples should be taken of the bottom in the general area of the dive. For every surface-supplied dive. but are not sufficiently accurate to be used to measure dive depths. All diving operations must consider: • • • • • • • • • • Depth Bottom type Temperature of the water Underwater visibility Tides and currents Marine life Support crew Cost of equipment Gas requirements Emergency assistance and treatment UNDER WATER DEPTH CONDITIONS Underwater Visibility: Water Temperature: ___________feet at _______depth ________degrees at _____depth ___________feet at _______depth ________degrees at _____depth ___________feet at _______depth ________degrees at _____depth At the Bottom ________degrees at bottom ___________feet at _______depth Thermoclines: Bottom Type: _____________________________ at ___________ depth _____________________________ at ___________ depth Obstructions: Current: _____________________________ Direction ________________ _____________________________ Source __________________ Marine Life: Velocity __________________ _____________________________ Pattern __________________ _____________________________ Tides: Other: _______________________ High Water _____/_____time _____________________________ Low Water _____/_____time _____________________________ Ebb Direction _______________Velocity _____________________ Flood Direction _____________ Velocity _____________________ FIGURE 6. FLAGS. the presence of contaminants in the water (see Chapter 13). Bottom conditions affect a diver's mobility and visibility under water.2 Predive Environmental Checklist In addition. SURFACE ATMOSPHERE SEA SURFACE Visibility __________________ Sea State______________________ ______________________ Sunrise/Set ________________ Wave Action: Moonrise/Set ______________ Height ______________________ Temperature (air) __________ Length ______________________ Humidity __________________ Direction ____________________ Barometer__________________ Current: Precipitation________________ Direction ____________________ Cloud Description/Cover ____ Velocity ____________________ Wind Direction/Force ______ Type Other: ____________________ Visibility ______________________ __________________________ Water Temperature ____________ __________________________ WARNING FOR AREAS WITH HIGH MARINE TRAFFIC. and currents. reductions in the performance of topside personnel could endanger the diver.

Every surface-supplied diver must have at least one tender in control of the umbilical at all times. The tender is responsible for dressing the diver and tending his umbilical. bottom conditions. On complex and long dives. a job rotation can be set up to maximize the potential of the dive team and allow much greater in-water time. the dive team personnel will set up the dive station.3 Preparing for the Dive Normally. As an example. and prepares reports of the dive. The standby tender must also be fully qualified as a tender and should attend all briefings and be kept fully aware of what is going on with the dive.become entrapped in the mud and usually generates sufficient silt to interfere substantially with visibility. ensures that emergency procedures and first aid supplies are available. the tender may also serve as the timekeeper. standby diver tender. and must work in unison with the diver. the supervisor uses a status board or status list to log gas pressures and system configurations. the dive supervisor may act as the timekeeper.2 Selecting the Dive Team The number of dive team personnel necessary to conduct surface-supplied operations depends on many factors: type of equipment being used. The standby diver must be as well trained and qualified as the diver he is supporting. It is the responsibility of the standby diver to be ready to provide emergency or backup support to the diver any time the diver is in the water. and helmet or mask. one of the biggest problems is removing an unconscious diver from the water. Currents must be considered in dive planning. A typical supervisor’s predive checklist consists of the following as a minimum: • Check to ensure the suit is donned properly • Check diver’s safety harness and emergency bailout system for proper fit and accessibility Surface-Supplied Diving 6-3 . On some dives. and tidal currents vary with such factors as the time of year. umbilical. and managing all dive operations. Underwater visibility and water temperature also have a major influence on dive planning. 6. bottom conditions. and noting all of the important details of the dive. it is desirable to have extra personnel available. conducts predive briefings. The status board is normally tailored specifically to each surface-supported diving system or configuration. To accomplish this. The tenders normally assist the divers in donning their wet suits. The supervisor will ensure the dive station has been properly set up. a standby tender may be needed. This individual determines equipment requirements. debriefs the divers. Before the diver enters the water. and weather. The timekeeper's responsibilities include keeping an accurate record of dive times. platform being used. the tender takes care of the diver's umbilical to ensure that no excess slack or tension is on the line. and must respond to and comply with instructions from surface personnel. organizing. as well as the safety harness. and ancillary equipment can be donned. 6. a standby is required for all surface-supplied operations. the tender: • • • • Checks the diver's equipment Checks the air supply Helps the diver get dressed Helps the diver to the water entry point Once the diver is in the water. environmental conditions. During dives involving a limited number of dive team members. the minimum of six personnel would be inadequate or inefficient unless all persons were qualified in all duties to allow for rotation of personnel assignments. A predive checklist should be used by the supervisor during the final dressing phase of the diver. A timekeeper may be designated to keep the diver's time during the job.1. It is the standby tender’s job to assist the primary tender or replace the primary tender at any time. phase of the tide. the diver must keep surface personnel informed of the progress of the dive.1. selects team members. regardless of size. dive supervisor. and ready for use. and any problems (actual or potential). and timekeeper. dive tender. In addition. Usually the helmet or mask is the last item to be donned. The checklist assists the supervisor in ensuring that the diver is properly dressed prior to deployment. and the number of divers that will be deployed. emergency gas supply. The diving supervisor checks the diver as well as the standby diver. how the diver/divers will be deployed and retrieved. all divers must know both line pull signals and voice signals. In addition. Every diver is responsible for ensuring that his diving gear is complete. depths. and aids in identifying and correcting potential problems. if for no other reason than coiling umbilicals or being available in the event an injured or disabled diver needs to be pulled from the water. in good repair. The diver(s) must be qualified and trained in the equipment and diving techniques needed for the dive. whether the surface-supplied scientist diver is working in a river or the ocean. If all members of the team are fully trained and qualified. standby diver. monitors the progress of the dive. During the course of the dive. If a diver is injured and unconscious there must be a plan and the resources available to render aid. depth. dive depth. The dive supervisor is responsible for planning. In many surfacesupplied diving operations. inspects the equipment before the dive. The tender is normally a qualified surface-supply diver or has received the specialized training required to be a competent tender. dry suits. ocean. The dive supervisor must remain at the dive site at all times. In many cases. or hot water suits. Keep in mind. Whenever possible. to safely deploy one surface-supplied diver on an open ocean dive would usually require a minimum of six people: the working diver. the tender maintains communication with the diver and keeps the diving supervisor informed of the diver's progress. the diver will dress to the point where he or she can rest comfortably while the safety harness. checks equipment and diver logs at the completion of the dive. The direction and velocity of river.

fully dressed with a mask and helmet. the tender pays out slack according to the descent rate. Figures 6.3 shows two types of lightweight surfacesupplied masks and Figure 6. The tender should always keep a hand on the diver. FIGURE 6. The tender maintains physical control of the diver as the diver enters or leaves the water. 6. but never faster than is needed by the diver.. demand regulator adjustment.Supplied Masks • Check diver’s weighting • Check and log emergency bailout system cylinder pressure • Check and log emergency bailout system gas mixture if diving mixed gas or nitrox • Check primary and secondary gas bank and supply pressures • Ensure gas flow to the mask or helmet • Check function of the emergency gas system • Check proper function of helmet or mask breathing components (i. steady flow) • Perform communications check 6-4 NOAA Diving Manual .4 Surface-Supplied Diver Wearing a Lightweight Mask and Wet Suit Once the diver is deployed. Figure 6. as the diver moves to or from the water entry point.6 shows surface-supplied divers with lightweight helmets.FIGURE 6. he should stop just under the surface and: • Adjust the demand regulator air supply • Check the function of the emergency supply valve and free-flow valve • Complete a communications check with the surface Figure 6.4 shows a surface-supplied diver ready to dive in a wet suit and lightweight mask. As the diver descends.4 Tending the Surface-Supplied Diver Contact between the tender and the diver must be maintained throughout the dive operation.7 shows the key features of diving helmets.3 Lightweight Surface . purge.5 and 6.1.e.

the situation should be treated as an emergency and the supervisor must be notified immediately.5 Lightweight Surface-Supplied Helmet The tender should always be able to feel the diver. If intercom communications are lost. the diver and tender should work as a team.9 m/min). it should not exceed 75 ft/min (22. The entry technique used depends on the staging area and type of vessel involved in the operation. When the diver is positioned for descent. All communications between the diver and tender should be passed on to the diving supervisor. • The supervisor should verify that the air supply system. No diver should dive with malfunctioning equipment. If equalization is not possible.1. The tender should check for any leaks in the air supply fittings or suit and also should look for air bubbles. this is about 2 – 3 ft. the tender helps the diver to prepare for water entry. If a stage is used for the diver’s entry. • The diving supervisor should give the diver permission to descend. Whether the diver is weighted neutrally or negatively will depend on the dive's objectives. If the diver fails to respond after several attempts to contact him. Surface-Supplied Diving 6-5 .FIGURE 6. The tender should only give the diver enough slack in the umbilical so as not to hinder the diver’s work. the dive must be terminated. the following actions. should be taken by various members of the dive team: FIGURE 6. • The supervisor should also verify with the diver that all equipment is functioning satisfactorily. If not. usually. the diver should stand or sit squarely on the stage platform and maintain a good grip on the rails. If at any time voice or line pull communications are lost. however. Once on the bottom. • The diver must equalize pressure in both ears during descent. The descent rate used depends on the diver.6 Surface-Supplied Diver in a Dry Suit • The diver should check his buoyancy. corrections must be made before the diver's descent. and communications are functioning properly. helmet (or mask). If voice communications are not used. If the diver makes a jump entry into the water. • The diver should descend down a descent or "shot" line. he must maintain a grip on the diving mask while the tender maintains sufficient slack on the umbilical. the tender and diver must be able to communicate through line-pull signals. the tender periodically signals the diver (using line-pulls) to check the diver’s condition. as appropriate. the tender must immediately notify the diving supervisor. 6.5 The Dive Once the diver is dressed and ready for the dive.

Neck Dam Swing Catch rotates out of the way to allow the neck dam assembly to be unsealed from the helmet. In lieu of a travel line. A travel line should be used when visibility is extremely poor and the diver cannot see the descent line from a distance. in conjunction with the swing catch. Oral Nasal reduces dead air space in the helmet thus reducing carbon dioxide build-up. The diver should be notified a few minutes in advance of termination of the dive so that the task can be completed and preparations made for ascent.Fiberglass and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Shell is light and impact-resistant.7 Key Features of Diving Helmets • When the diver reaches the bottom. Even when the latches are released. thus preventing any flooding of the helmet. a second diver must be on the bottom to tend the umbilical hose at the entrance to the confined space. Externally Adjustable Chin Strap supports and along with the adjustable neck pad on the locking collar gives the diver a comfortable. the diver should proceed slowly to conserve energy.. Port Weight provides balance and comfort. wreckage and obstructions. well-balanced feel as well as excellent thermal protection during long work periods. tunnels. the tender should be informed of the diver's status and the diver should ensure that the umbilical assembly is not fouled around the descent line. it may be necessary for the diver to assume a crawling position. If the diver is required to enter wreckage. secure fit. • After leaving the descent line. Head Cushions give the helmet a secure. It is advisable for divers to carry one turn of the umbilical hose in the hand to allow for unexpected pulls on the hose. Adjustable Neck Pad is made from a scuff resistant elastomer and. • • • • 6-6 NOAA Diving Manual . etc. The diver should pass over. If moving against a current. provides protection for the bottom of the helmet. the neck dam maintains a positive seal and will not allow the seal to be broken until the collar actually clears the diver's shoulders. FIGURE 6. not under. Locking Collar Latch System consists of two sealed pull pins which are pulled forward to release the neck collar and neck dam locking system. provides a heat/cold barrier. and will not conduct electricity. the diver can pass his umbilical through the bail of the stage or bell before proceeding to the work site. and an accessory mounting area. • The diver may choose to attach a travel line and then proceed to the work area.

To ventilate a demand mode helmet or mask. surface-supplied divers are in a better position to survive than scuba divers. The diving suit should fit the diver well to avoid leaving excessive space in the legs in which air can accumulate. An excessive drag on the umbilical by the current can sweep a diver to the surface. Once at depth. panting or shortness of breath. or by the shifting of heavy objects under water.1. wreckage. To eliminate excess CO2 in a free-flow helmet or mask. but is usually a result of improper buoyancy control of a variable-volume dry suit. In such emergencies. Surface-Supplied Diving 6-7 .1 m/min) that must be maintained for a safe ascent.0 m) and decompress for the amount of time that would normally have been required for ascent from the dive's working depth.1 Ventilation If the diver experiences rapid breathing. Fouling may result in fatigue. The diving supervisor should consult with a qualified hyperbaric physician regarding the specific table to use for the treatment. exposure. If no chamber is available. regardless of their previous experience with other types of suits. particularly with variable-volume suits. or does not moderate his work rate. however. both of which facilitate rescue operations. If a diver who has experienced a blowup appears to have no ill effects and is still within the no decompression range prescribed by the tables. abnormal perspiration. During blowup. possibly requiring further descent in the chamber. After surfacing.6. blowup victims should not be allowed to resume diving.1. also may result in an uncontrolled blowup.6 Diver Emergencies 6. the free-flow or demand regulator purge valve can be used for five to ten seconds. or the diver loses hold of the bottom or descending line and is buoyed up to the surface. the diver's condition should be evaluated for signs or symptoms of air embolism or decompression sickness. or underwater structures. may be able to follow surface decompression procedures. The diver should then surface. in the use of all constant-volume dry suits. 6.1. conscious victims should be treated in accordance with recompression procedures for interrupted or omitted decompression. This is a hazard for divers using either a constant-volume dry suit (lightweight helmet connected to a dry suit) or variablevolume dry suit. after which. such as the bottom of a ship or platform) Before beginning a dive. (18. Divers who are fouled should: • • • • Remain calm and control breathing Think clearly Describe the situation to topside Determine the cause of fouling and. dizziness. Normally. or an unusual sensation of warmth. or who require decompression. which causes the legs of the suit to fill with the breathing gas.6. if possible. clear themselves • Be careful to avoid cutting portions of the umbilical assembly when using a knife If efforts to clear themselves are unsuccessful. or blurred vision. and it may also necessitate an extended decompression. because they have a virtually unlimited air supply and can communicate with the surface. Blowup victims who are close to the no decompression limit. Using a constantvolume dry suit to assist in ascending is not recommended because losing control of the rate of ascent can be fatal. air in the legs of the suit presents a serious hazard. or the diver may be trapped by the cave-in of a tunnel. a blowup occurs when the suit is over inflated or the diver loses hold of the descending line and is buoyed to the surface. CO2 retention is not as common. and prolonged submergence. if unable to meet the criteria for surface decompression.1 Fouling A surface-supplied diver's umbilical may become fouled in mooring lines. but can be present if the diver does not breathe normally.6. or if the helmet/mask viewport becomes foggy. Struggling and other panicky actions might make the situation worse by further complicating the entanglement.5. the victim should be recompressed in a chamber to 60 ft.2 Blowup Blowup is the uncontrolled ascent of a diver from depth. Divers must be trained under controlled conditions. Oxygen shall be available for breathing at 60 ft. Accidental inversion of the diver.3 m) and evaluated. divers should call for the standby diver and then wait calmly for his arrival. the diver must ventilate the helmet or mask by significantly increasing the flow for a minimum of 15 – 20 seconds. this will normally flush any excess CO2 from the oral nasal. he should return to a depth of 10 feet (3. or has the regulator adjustment device set too heavy. Accidental blowup can cause: • • • • Arterial gas embolism Decompression sickness Missed decompression stops Physical injury (if the diver on ascent strikes an object. the diver must be certain that all suit exhaust valves are functioning properly. preferably in a training tank. there is probably an excess of carbon dioxide in the headgear. or face cavity. the diver typically exceeds the correct rate of ascent 30 ft/min (9. In demand mode masks. 6. A blowup is defined as the unexpected or uncontrolled ascent of the diver.1. A blowup occurs when the diving suit becomes over inflated. he should be observed for at least an hour for signs of delayed-onset decompression sickness or other injuries. unconscious victims should be handled according to the recompression table. and treatment procedures that are designed for cases of air embolism or serious decompression sickness should be used. A blowup can be caused by entanglement in rigging which causes the diver to be pulled to a shallower depth.

a diver will lose sight of the descent line or lose contact with the distance line. The diver should switch to the emergency gas supply (bail-out) and see if the gas flow returns. If the primary gas supply cannot be restored by the time the diver is ready to ascend. If the diver does not clear the umbilical and starts the ascent. Considerable resistance to the tender's pull may indicate that the umbilical line is fouled.2) and abort the dive. the demand valve will automatically add gas as the ambient pressure increases. if the diver is wearing a variable-volume dry suit. with or without variable-volume dry suits. If the diver should start to fall. however. this can result in a squeeze if the diver cannot immediately compensate by adding gas to both the suit and the helmet or mask. the diver should be assumed to be unconscious.6. In this case. and the dive should be aborted. Never continue a dive with only one gas source. notify the diving supervisor.6. The diver’s umbilical should be cleared and the diver brought to the surface.6. Sometimes the diver may report that his gas flow is low or the helmet or mask is breathing hard. the diver should immediately check to ensure that the umbilical is clear.3 Loss of Primary Air Supply Although losing the primary air supply is an infrequent occurrence with most surface-supplied systems. the tender should guide the diver to the descent line in a systematic fashion using search procedures (see Chapter 10). 3. or by rigging. it is very possible that the diver’s umbilical is being pinched or squeezed by a heavy object. the diver may be hauled a short distance off the bottom. the dive may either be terminated or continued to completion (using line-pull signals for communication). and will ensure the diver’s umbilical is clear and the diver is ready to ascend. and then will order the diver to check that the umbilical is clear and prepare to leave the bottom. The following procedure should be used: 6-8 NOAA Diving Manual . In this situation. If hard-wire voice communication is lost. it is generally best to terminate the dive so that the problem can be resolved and the dive plan revised. Squeezes can be very serious. in which case a standby diver may need to be dispatched.6. the diving supervisor will order the diver back to the stage/bell or descent line. If the water is less than 40 ft. 2. In the unlikely event gas supply to the gas control console is lost. The diving supervisor will order the loss investigated and will immediately make preparations to abort the dive. With a demand helmet or facemask.6.2 m). the diver should signal the tender to be lowered to the bottom again. greater strain should be taken on the line and the signal should be sent again.1. The diver and tender must always be alert to the possibility of a fall. Depending on diving conditions and the arrangements made during dive planning. (12. the primary gas will be immediately restored and the dive will continue. the tender should immediately attempt to communicate with the diver by line-pull signals (see Table 8. 6. the following procedure should be used: 1. the tender should take a strain on the umbilical to stop the diver’s descent. If the tender feels sufficient tension on the line to conclude that it is still attached to the diver. The supervisor will have the tender remove any excess slack in the umbilical. If the distance line is lost.6. the gas control operator should immediately switch to the secondary gas supply. If the tender does not receive an immediate line-pull signal reply from the diver. 5.1. the source of the umbilical restriction will be found. he may not make it very far. a check of the helmet or mask should be made to make sure breathing gas is available through the diver’s apparatus. If the umbilical cannot be freed. 6.6 Falling Falling is an especially serious hazard for divers using free-flow helmets or masks. The principal danger is the sudden increase in ambient pressure. 6. In research diving. (12.7 Ascent When the diver’s bottom time has expired or the task has been completed. Loss of primary gas supply can be very serious.2 m) deep. it does occur occasionally. A check of the supply console may reveal that the diver has the proper gas pressure. the diver will have to return to the bottom in order to free the umbilical. the standby diver should be deployed with a spare umbilical and the necessary tools to switch out the fouled umbilical. If the diver now has adequate gas flow. In many cases. a squeeze would still be possible. When contact with the descent line is regained. but continues to receive no reply to line-pull signals. In this event.5 Loss from View of Descent or Distance Line Occasionally. the standby diver should be dispatched immediately. however.1. at which point.1. and stand by for instructions. the dive should be aborted. it is always good practice to immediately prepare to abort whenever a potentially serious situation like this arises. 4. Usually during the course of these two procedures. The diving supervisor will have the tender remove all slack from the umbilical.4 Loss of Communication or Contact with the Diver If contact with the diver is lost. In water deeper than 40 ft. If the diver is found to be not breathing.1. the diver should search carefully within arm's reach or within his immediate vicinity. the tender should be informed and should haul in the umbilical assembly and attempt to guide the diver back to the descending line. Having the diver ensure the umbilical is clear is important. 6. The diving supervisor will have the tender remove the slack from the umbilical.

The solution may be applied by sponge or brush. Ensure the dive system has been properly secured. When working from a small boat with surface-supplied gear. All masks and helmets should be blown dry to ensure all trapped water is removed from the inlet valve and gas train components. as directed by the diving supervisor.1. and should remain in contact with the parts being cleaned for a full five minutes. 2.1 m/min). he should be capable of donning scuba and entering the water in less than a minute. and stow. the following procedure is recommended: 1. 3. Communications equipment must be protected from weather and water spray. manifold.1. the supervisor will inform the diver well in advance of decompression requirements. and/or mouth piece. Surface-Supplied Diving 6-9 . Clean the helmet or mask and emergency gas system. the communication box is generally placed on a seat or platform.8 Umbilical Diving from Small Boats Although most surface-supplied diving is conducted from large vessels or fixed platforms. Generally. The standby diver may be equipped with a second umbilical and mask. can also serve as the supervisor on such dives. Some divers use a heavy-duty communication cable as a lifeline. disconnect and cap. For the convenience of the tender. Because small boats can only be used to support relatively shallow water work.7 m). Regardless of the cylinder configuration used. polaxameriodine to one gallon of fresh water. 4. disconnect. 6. This enables the team to operate without an air compressor and its accompanying bulk and noise. The solution should be mixed at a ratio of 1/2 oz. If properly qualified. with a solution of poloxamer-iodine cleansing solution. Air dry all equipment thoroughly before storing. Blow down the diver’s umbilicals. The bail-out cylinder is plumbed into the manifold block (see Figure 6. This line is also constructed so that it may be released readily in case of entanglement. If diving operations have been concluded. or bag exposed fittings. it is wise to limit diving depths to less than 100 ft. the configuration of the cylinder bank(s) and air control console must be configured to assure that a reserve breathing gas supply is provided. The diving supervisor should start timing the ascent as soon as the diver indicates he has left the bottom. All divers should carry a small self-contained emergency scuba cylinder “bail-out cylinder” for use in the event of primary system failure. The diving supervisor is responsible for ensuring the proper ascent rate (generally 30 ft/min 9. and the area being cleaned should be thoroughly brushed or scrubbed with the solution. 6. two or more sets of standard twin-cylinder scuba cylinders can be connected by a specially constructed manifold that is.8 or 8.5 m) when working from a small boat. the diver should remain in the general vicinity for at least 30 minutes. which allows the standby diver and tender to stay in communication. NOAA requires an emergency supply of this type for all surface-supplied diving operations. it is best to have the boat anchored in a minimum of a two-point moor to help prevent the craft from entangling the diver. The tender. a bank of high-pressure cylinders may be used in conjunction with a air control console to supply the breathing air. and the valves. The umbilical may be coiled on top of the air cylinders or in the bottom of the boat. the diver will bleed gas as necessary during ascent to avoid an accidental blowup. When diving deeper than 100 fsw or out side the no-decompression limits. 5. in turn. Postdive maintenance should be performed according to manufacturer recommendations. The tender should exert a slow. 8. who is a qualified diver. A standby using scuba should be fitted with a quick-release lifeline (readily releasable in the event of entanglement). The number and size of the high-pressure cylinders required depend on the size of the boat and on operational requirements. When the diver surfaces. connected to a high-pressure reduction regulator or small gas control panel.1. the umbilical from the boat to the diver is usually 100 –150 ft. 5. all personnel can alternate tasks to achieve maximum operational efficiency. all cylinders must be secured properly. or can be equipped with scuba. 2. If diving in a dry suit. Generally.7 Postdive Procedures After the diver has removed all his equipment and been checked by the diving supervisor. 6. 4. The diving team for a surface-supplied dive from a small boat consist of a person-in-charge (diving supervisor). Many divers consider high-pressure cylinder air supply systems safer and more dependable than systems incorporating a small compressor and a volume or receiver tank. For small boats. the tender and topside personnel help the diver to the dressing bench where the helmet or mask is removed followed by their remaining equipment. (30. then.5m3) high-pressure cylinders. Secure the air supply to the helmet or mask. rinse thoroughly. tender. it is a disinfectant. or oral-nasal mask. 3. air may be carried in a series of 240 or 300 ft3 (6. steady pull. When diving surface-supplied from a small craft. a diver. The console operator will relay to the diving supervisor the depth (generally every ten feet) as read from the pneumofathometer. Clean and rinse all diving equipment. the umbilical system can be adapted readily to small boat operations that are anchored and secured. (30. In larger boats. all traces of the solution should be thoroughly rinsed with fresh water. and blow down with air. Polaxamer-iodine is not an antiseptic. 7.8). The umbilical is then connected to the pressure side of the pressure-reduction unit.5 – 45. and regulator must be protected to prevent injury to personnel and equipment damage. The tender should exert a slight strain on the umbilical assembly. Poloxamer-iodine solution is available from medical supply outlets and is intended for disinfecting and cleaning components to minimize the transmission of germs. and standby diver. Clean the interior of the full face mask or helmet oral cavity.

the tender should be notified and the diver should proceed to the work site. Decompression stops can be made along the ascent line. divers should keep their backs to the current so they will be forced against the descent line. The tender also should keep the diver constantly informed of bottom time. The tender should pull in the excess umbilical line slowly and steadily. getting breathing under control. helmet or mask. The tender or divemaster must inform the diver of his decompression requirements well in advance of dive termination. the ship must be secured in a multiple-point moor. corrections must be made before the diver enters the water. feet (about 2.1. Jump entries are discouraged from heights more than 5 – 6 ft. line-pull signals are the backup form of communication if the voice system fails. The mooring must be observed to ensure functional stability before divers enter the water.10 Schematic of a Typical High-Pressure Cylinder Bank Air Supply System Air Intake FIGURE 6. and communications should be checked to ensure proper functioning. The ship’s captain must be notified that divers are about to enter the water. the diver should return onboard ship via the ladder or diving 6-10 Filter NOAA Diving Manual . it should not exceed 75 ft.8 Manifold Block Assembly FIGURE 6. When the bottom is reached. The diver should not release the ascent line.FIGURE 6.0 m) above the water. divers. and tenders should perform a thorough check of equipment. The diver should always be notified a few minutes in advance of termination times so that there is time to complete the task. and to prepare for ascent.9 Umbilical Diving from Ships Prior to commencing surface-supplied diving operations. Divers and tenders should review thoroughly the linepull signals described in Chapter 8. however. If descending in a tideway or current. When work is completed.9 Schematic of a Low-Pressure CompressorEquipped Air Supply System 6. The water should be entered using a ladder or diving stage lowered into the water. Although voice is the primary means of communication between divers and surface tenders when surface-supplied equipment is being used. Descent rate will depend on the diver. (22. however. A descent line should be used. When decompression is completed. and clearance should be obtained before the diving operation commences. the diver should return to the ascent line and signal the tender that he is ready to ascend.9 m) per minute. All personnel. a stage should be utilized for long decompresssions. If not. The air-supply system. and should resist the temptation to assist the tender by climbing the line. generally.

divers can be reasonably certain that the inspired carbon dioxide will not exceed two percent. Normally the free-flow valve is intended for defogging the face plate. Most free-flow helmets and masks have no provisions for demand-mode diving.10 Basic Air Supply Systems The two basic types of air supply systems used for surface-supplied diving are: 1.7 psi) For depths greater than 120 ft. (24.445D + 115 psia where 115 psia = absolute hose pressure (100 psi + 14. 6. Use of rope ladders is highly discouraged. receiving assistance from his tender as required. it requires a continuous flow of gas rather than a flow strictly on demand.8 msw). (36. be serviced at regular intervals. To compute the flow rate required for demand systems. the general system configuration used is the one shown in Figure 6. 6. If a ladder or diving stage is not available.1. It is important that the diving umbilical in use is of good quality. you must know what the anticipated work rate will be. and supply pressure. By ensuring that the apparatus is capable of supplying at least six acfm (170 liters) under all circumstances.10.12 Supply Pressure Requirements—Free-Flow Systems When using a free-flow mask or helmet. and be monitored by trained personnel. the primary requirement of the air supply system is that it must have a capacity (in acfm . the general system configuration is similar to that shown in Figure 6. with a smooth inner bore of at least 3/8’’ inside diameter. With free-flow equipment. Regardless of the type of system. When diving to depths in excess of 120 fsw (36. When diving to depths of 120 fsw (36. For demand equipment. there are many factors that can influence air flow. and operate only on a free-flow basis.1. Air compressors are discussed in more detail in Chapter 5.04 is expressed in standard cubic feet per minute (scfm). Using a demandmode helmet or mask in a free-flow mode is inefficient. supply valve restrictions. access to and egress from the water can be via a small boat lowered over the side. When the air supply system for surface-supplied diving operations involves an air compressor.7 psi) 6. and can also be used if the demand mode fails. High-pressure cylinder banks When properly configured. Air compressors and volume tanks 2. it is recommended that the umbilical pressure be at least 50 psi over ambient pressure. it is recommended that the supply pressure be at least 100 psi over ambient pressure. To compute the ventilation rate necessary to control the level of inspired CO2. When surface-supplied diving operations utilize a highpressure cylinder system for diver air supply.6 msw): Ps = 0. length and inside diameter of umbilical.11 Rates of Air Flow The rate at which air must flow from the air supply to diver depends on whether the breathing apparatus (helmet or mask) operates on a free-flow or demand principle.9.stage.13 Supply Pressure Requirements—Demand Systems Demand-mode diving generally requires higher pressures from the supply system. either of these air sources is able to supply breathing gas that is: • • • • Of specified purity Of adequate volume At the proper pressure Delivered at a sufficient flow rate to ensure adequate ventilation R = 6(Pa) (N) where R = ventilation flow rate in scfm (standard cubic foot per minute) Pa = absolute pressure at working depth in ata N = number of divers to be supplied Example: What ventilation rate would be required for two divers using free-flow style helmets at 80 ft. lighter. it is imperative that it be in good repair. 6.actual cubic foot per minute) that will provide sufficient ventilation at depth to prevent the carbon dioxide level in the mask or helmet from exceeding safe limits at normal work levels. number of umbilical couplings. Simple calculations give the supply pressures necessary for most free-flow diving.1. clearing water. This means a smaller. For depths less than 120 fsw: Ps = 0.445D + 65 where Ps = supply air pressure in psig D = depth in fsw and 65 = absolute hose pressure (50 psi + 14.8 msw). the rate of air flow should always be able to exceed the diver’s consumption rate. The number of umbilical connections or fittings between the supply console and the diver can severely restrict the flow of air to the diver.04 scfm The flow requirement of 41.4 m)? Solution: R = 6acfm(Pa) (N) R = 6acfm[(3. the following equation should be used: Surface-Supplied Diving 6-11 . and during extremely hard work or emergencies. but the overall gas usage is less than that of free-flow diving. or ventilating. Demand masks and helmets are designed to operate in the demand mode even though many also have a free-flow capability.42ata) (2 divers)] R = 41.1.

. . only a large compressor would do. would be greater than the flow through two 150-ft. . The actual supply pressure needed to allow the helmet or mask to work efficiently is dictated by the manufacturer. The flow 6-12 NOAA Diving Manual . the need to flow great quantities of air to ensure low levels of CO2 is eliminated. the peak flow rate at the highest rate of work must be used. . Computing the rate of flow that the air system must be able to deliver for demand-mode diving is essentially the same as calculating consumption rate at depth.0 liter) Extremely Heavy .9 msw). as well as demand regulator performance characteristics.medium-pressure compressor can often be used where previously.316: 4. Average Working Breathing Rates: Light Work .6 ft3/min (75. diameter. usually expressed in joules/liter. . . This increase in ambient pressure makes it necessary to increase the supply pressure to maintain a driving force and to compensate for the increased gas density which causes a greater resistance to flow within the umbilical and gas-supply components. . . Before calculations can be made. . values should be defined. The most accurate way to validate the flow of a system is to do a flow test of the entire surface-supplied system from the outlet of the supply console to the end of the umbilical. . . this pressure will be dependent on how deep the helmet or mask is worn. . Most regulators in demand helmets or masks are very similar to those used for open-circuit scuba diving. . . These guidelines will include supply pressure and the length. Demand-mode consumption rates (actual gas being ventilated through the diver’s lungs) are computed basically the same way as open-circuit scuba. . This is usually the case because many demand regulators can be used with relatively low supply pressures when diving to depths of 60 fsw (18. The basic formula for determining required air pressure is as follows: (Depth in fsw × .4 × 3. 0. . . . . . some will also specify the umbilical lengths and number of umbilical couplings that may be used. and number of umbilical connections consoles can accommodate. . the rate at which air is consumed is always significantly lower than the peak inhalation flow rate. . the flow at the end of a single length umbilical. if free-flow gear were used. umbilicals coupled together. . However.6 ft3/min To change this value to liters multiply by 28. due to variations and combinations of gas supply systems. . anticipated highest work rate and depth of the dive. . 3. as depth increases. . . . Consequently. . this is the measurement of volume-averaged pressure (resistive effort). . . long. .4 ft3/min (40. . . .316 = 130.0 liter) Moderately Heavy . In order for the diver to have the required flow. the demand system allows for greater dive time due to more efficient use of gas. two factors must be identified. . The final value can be converted to cubic feet in order to work bank storage formulas: one cubic foot = 28. 300 ft. Solution: Moderate Work = 1.5 liter) Heavy . . .8 l/min Most demand-mode helmets and masks will have at least two recommended over-ambient supply pressures. . . In demand-mode diving. . .4 msw) or less. most manufacturers of demand-type helmets and masks will dictate supply pressure and gas flow requirements.6 × 28. due to the use of oral-nasal masks or very small oral cavities.316 liters. the air requirements for respiration are based on the maximum instantaneous peak flow rate under heavy work conditions.5 liter) Moderate Work. . (depth +33) ÷ 33 Example: What would the rate of flow be for a diver using demand mask or helmet doing moderate work at 75 fsw (22. . The rate at which the diver is working is normally expressed in Respiratory Minute Volume (RMV). the actual flow will be influenced by certain mechanical restrictions within the system. .2 ft3/min (90. .445 psi) + 135 psig] (57 psi + 135 psig) 192. 2. so does the ambient pressure and the density of the breathing gas. . As an example. . . if high-pressure storage banks are used. . . . .4 ft3 × [(75 fsw + 33) ÷ 33] = (1. . . . For demand-mode diving.445) + manufacturer’s recommended pressure over ambient pressure setting = minimum supply pressure where fsw = diver’s depth . In addition.445 psig = the force exerted by one foot of salt water Example: If the manufacturer recommends a minimum supply pressure of 135 psig over ambient when diving to depths of 130 fsw.0 liter) Formula for consumption rate at depth: CD = RMV (PA) where CD = consumption rate at depth RMV = total volume of air moved in and out of the lungs in one minute. what would be the supply pressure setting on the console? Solution: [(130 fsw × . In addition. . . However. . In addition. . .27) = 4. 2. 1.2 psig requirement varies directly with the respiratory demands of the workload. often. .2 ft3/min (62. . many manufacturers of helmets and masks also list breathing performance data. To determine air consumption rates. . . Some manufacturers of surface-supplied consoles will list the flow capability of their system when used within certain guidelines. It must be remembered that when computing the flow requirements.8 ft3/min (22. measured in liters PA =pressure absolute.

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2. . . .2. . .7 7. .1. . 7. .9 7. . . . . . 8 Equipment Maintenance Training. . . .Diver and Support Personnel Training SECTION 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . .1. . . . 7 Chamber Operator Training . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Nose and Paranasal Sinuses .2. . . . . 7-10 7. .2. . 7. . . . . . . 2 Umbilical Dive Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 7.11 Other Training Requirements . .2. 3 Nitrox Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. .2. . . . . . . .3 7. . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . 7. . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . . . . .3 7. . .1 MISSION AND PERSONNEL CERTIFICATION . . . . . . . 7 Oral and Dental . . .4 7. . . . .2 GENERAL . . . . . .0 7.1.2. . . . . . . . . . 4 Saturation Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . 7.1. . . . . . . . . . 4 Ophthalmologic . . . . . .3 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Endocrinological . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 7. . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . 7-10 7. . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . .3 7. .11 Gastrointestinal . . 7.2. . . . 1 Scuba Training .1 7. . . .2. . . 1 Qualification Test . . . . . . .2. . .4 TRAINING PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS. . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . 1 Classroom . . . . . . . . . . .2.1 7 PAGE 7. . . . . . . . . . .4 7. . . . .2. . . . 9 Diver Medical Technician Training . . . . . . . .3 7. 7. . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . .7 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Hematological . . . . .2.2 7. 7. . . . 5 Otolaryngologic .2 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . .1. . .2. . .1. . . . . . . . . .4 7. . . .2. . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Dive Leadership Training . . . . . . . . . 7. . . .2. . .2.1. . .5 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . 7. . . . . . . .2 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 7. . . 7. . . . . . . 2 Pool and Open Water. . . . . . .1. . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Swimming Skills . . . . . 9 Cardiovascular . . .2 7. . . . 7-12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. .1. . .7 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . 7. . . . . .1. . .8 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . .2. . .1. . . 7. . . . . . . .13 Musculoskeletal . .3 7. . . 1 Selection Standards . 2 Physical Examination . 8 Pulmonary . . . . 7-11 7. . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . .2.1. . . . 7. . . 5 Research Diver Training . . . . . . . . 7.1. .2. . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . .9 7. . . .10 Hyperbaric Physician Training . . . . . . . . . 7. . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Skin . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . .2. . . . 7. .4 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . .3 7. 2 Psychiatric . . . . . . .14 Obstetric and Gynecological .6 7. . . . . . . . . . .2 7. . . . 7. . . . . . . . . 3 Neurologic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Diver and Support Personnel Training 7. 7 Participation in diving activities under NOAA auspices requires certification by the NOAA Diving Program. an assessment of motivation. under the auspices of the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO). The psychological evaluation consists of a personal interview.S. and a general screening by experienced NOAA divers to identify individuals who are likely to be able to handle the stresses of diving. conditions. and responsibilities of NOAA diving work. is responsible for overseeing and managing NOAA diving personnel. document the behavior of fish and other marine animals.1. and basic approaches to diver training. NOAA divers may be required to deploy and retrieve scientific instruments. engineers. On any given day. ensuring that all diving is performed safely and efficiently. NOAA. The NOAA Diving Program offers a variety of dive and dive-support training courses which are open to NOAA personnel as well as employees of other governmental agencies on a space-available basis. Specific requirements for certification vary according to the certification category or training level and typically involve a combination of training and experience. the criteria for personnel selections. 7-1 . Many organizations offer diver training. Although this chapter emphasizes the training of NOAA divers and other support personnel. Underwater research and support activities are conducted by NOAA scientists. Diving certifications are awarded by the NOAA Diving Program in five categories based on an individual’s training and experience level. and their water skills. NOAA has many programs that require work to be conducted below the ocean’s surface. These include: • • • • • Trainee Diver Scientific Diver Working Diver Advanced Working Diver Master Diver 7. many of the principles described here can apply to the training of other divers. NOAA divers work in waters throughout the world in conditions that vary from the crystal clear water of a pristine marine sanctuary to the murky and polluted water of a congested harbor. and locate and chart submerged objects.1 MISSION AND PERSONNEL CERTIFICATION As the nation’s premier ocean science agency. Courses offered include: • • • • • • • • Working Diver Divemaster Diver Medical Technician Chamber Operator Surface-Supplied Diving Nitrox Diving Visual Cylinder Inspection Polluted-Water Diving Techniques 7. requirements. The evaluation interview helps to identify any misconceptions the candidate may have about training.1 Selection Standards NOAA divers are selected from volunteers on the basis of their psychological and physical fitness. the U. physical fitness. and other government organizations train divers to support mission requirements. equipment. NDP. These training organizations select students on the basis of their personal motivation. Commercial diving schools offer training for divers in the commercial diving industry. and basic swimming skills. perform routine and emergency ship repair and maintenance. the training involved in preparing to dive under specialized circumstances. Navy. Many colleges and universities offer diver training to students and faculty members who use diving as a research tool. Recreational diver training is also available from recreational diver certification agencies and local dive stores. and technicians who are trained and certified to dive by the NOAA Diving Program (NDP).0 GENERAL This chapter describes the mission of NOAA diver training programs. It does not prescribe specific training procedures or attempt to teach divers how to perform specific underwater tasks. and activities.

including abuse of alcohol or use of mood-altering drugs 7.1. • Extensive mastoid surgery.2.4 Ophthalmologic Since a diver’s vision is critical to his safety.2 Physical Examination A physical examination is required to determine whether every candidate is medically qualified to dive. according to the level of work anticipated. motility disorder. aphakia with correction. These conditions may be disqualifying: • Tympanic membrane perforations should be disqualifying (an opening in the tympanic membrane would allow water into the middle ear). • Chronic or acute otitis externa should be disqualifying until healed. are acceptable. In all instances. candidates must have intact tympanic membranes and should be able to either autoinflate the tympanic membrane or demonstrate the ability to clear their ears in a hyperbaric chamber. Ideally. • Narrow-angle glaucoma. cataract. a skilled ophthalmologist should be consulted. If a tympanic membrane rupture is completely healed or has been surgically repaired and the candidate is able to autoinflate. Military. Diving after intracranial surgery should be evaluated individually. or post-traumatic seizures should be disqualifying. it is important to review the following: • Candidates should demonstrate adequate visual acuity to orient themselves in the water and on the surface. They are not established standards. contact medical services at DAN: (919) 684-2948.1. the candidate should not be at a greater risk of seizures post-operatively and should be physically able to participate in all aspects of diving. including abnormal EEG. and their cognitive learning ability. including any form of seizure or prior cerebrovascular accident. The following conditions should be considered: • Any neurologic deficit. he may be conditionally cleared for diving with the warning that the perforation may recur.3 Neurologic A history of severe closed-head injury with prolonged unconsciousness or evidence of significant intracerebral trauma must be thoroughly investigated. 7-2 NOAA Diving Manual .2. NOTE For more detailed information.1.2.7. NOAA has developed and enforces its own medical standards for its divers. it shall be the decision of a trained hyperbaric medical examiner whether the condition disqualifies an individual from entering into or continuing to participate in diving duties. • Meniere’s disease and other chronic conditions that are associated with vertigo.1. There must be complete recovery.2. 7. • Because color vision is required for certain diving tasks. should be absolutely disqualifying.2. stapedectomy. 7. Other conditions have been judged to increase the risk of serious injury or disability in the diving environment. the physician will be a certified diver and/or have training in hyperbaric medicine. The guidelines below present a framework for individual dive fitness evaluations. deficiencies in color vision may be disqualifying.1 Skin These conditions should be disqualifying: • Any chronic or acute dermatitis adversely affected by prolonged immersion • Allergy to materials used in diving equipment that comes into contact with the skin • History of sensitization or severe allergy to marine or waterborne allergens 7. their ability to adapt to stressful situations. behavioral-cognitive problems. and retinitis pigmentosa are relative disqualifications for diving. • Barotitis should be temporarily disqualifying until all middle ear inflammation and fluid have resolved and tympanic membrane motility has returned to normal. Some medical conditions may disqualify a person from diving with compressed gas. or artificial cochlear implant. their motivation to pursue diving. Corrective lenses. and scientific divers are evaluated according to standards set forth by their respective agencies or organizations. These conditions should be disqualifying: • Acute psychosis • Uncontrolled chronic or acute depression with suicidal tendencies • Chronic psychosis in partial remission on medication • Substance abuse. These guidelines are organized in accordance with a systems approach.1. commercial. • Herniated nucleus pulposis of the lower back (if corrected) should be evaluated on an individual basis. or for a referral to a physician knowledgeable in diving medicine.5 Otolaryngologic As a prerequisite to diving. and no attempt is made to rank systems in terms of their relative importance. 7.1. • Any disorder that causes or results in loss of consciousness or any form of seizure disorder.2 Psychiatric Careful attention should be paid to the maturity of prospective candidates. either fixed to the face mask or soft contact lenses (which allow for gas transfer). • Active ear infections should be temporarily disqualifying.

1.2. cholecystitis. hepatitis. should be disqualified. pneumothorax. These conditions may be disqualifying: • Nasal polyps. • Candidates with pacemakers should be individually evaluated and. • Peripheral vascular disease (requires case-by-case evaluation).7. including disorders that manifest as paroxysmal tachycardias.11 Gastrointestinal These conditions should be disqualifying: • Any active or chronic disorder that predisposes a diver to vomiting (including Meckel’s diverticulum. These conditions should be disqualifying: • Where there is a danger that trapped gas could get under a tooth and rupture it • Badly decayed or broken teeth that impair the candidate’s ability to hold a scuba mouthpiece 7.2. Exercise-induced rhythm disorders.1.2. that impair the candidate’s ability to use scuba equipment or impair the candidate’s ability to perform required tasks. unless it is diet-controlled. unless documented that it is not due to disease.2.13 Musculoskeletal These conditions should be disqualifying: • Paralytic disorders • Bone fractures that are incompletely healed and osteomyelitis that is actively draining • Deformities. 7.2. acute gastroenteritis.1. An EKG exam to evaluate a potential diver with any cardiovascular concerns should include an exercise stress test to 13 or 14 METS (Metabolic Exercise Tolerance Score) with no difficulty. generally. surgery of the chest.2. unless careful evaluation shows no excessive scar formation or likelihood of air trapping • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) • Active pneumonia or lung infection. 7. colitis. • Coronary artery disease should be evaluated by an expert. or traumatic pneumothorax. including active tuberculosis • Mycotic (fungal) disease with cavity formation 7. and severe motion sickness) • Unrepaired abdominal or inguinal hernia • Active or uncontrolled peptic ulcer disease. 7. as myelofibrosis and polycythemia • Intoxication that has caused methemoglobinemia • Anemia is relatively disqualifying and requires caseby-case evaluation 7. • Heart block. The following conditions are absolute disqualifications for diving: • Exercise-induced reactive airway disease (RAD) • History of spontaneous pneumothorax • Previous penetrating chest trauma.1. These conditions should be disqualifying: • • • • Cyanotic heart disease.1.1. despite control with drugs. or pneumomediastinum. • Hypertension should be considered on a case-bycase basis. or diverticulitis 7.8 Pulmonary Because any abnormality in pulmonary system function can cause arterial gas embolism.1. and other obstructive nasal lesions • Acute or chronic infection A history of long-term decongestant use should trigger a search for the cause of the congestion. • Candidates taking cardiovascular drugs (including blood pressure medication) should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Prosthetic heart valves.6 Nose and Paranasal Sinuses A patent nasal passage and the absence of sinus and nasal congestion are essential in diving. • Other endocrine abnormalities should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The use of beta blockers increases the risk of bronchospasm and suppresses the stress response.2.1. and candidates should be warned about the dangers of the chronic use of chemical agents while diving. Aortic stenosis or coaretation of the aorta. all candidates should be given a screening chest x-ray.10 Hematological These conditions should be disqualifying: • Sickle-cell anemia • Leukemia or pre-leukemia manifesting. including managing emergency situations • Inadequate physical fitness to handle the physical work of diving Diver and Support Personnel Training 7-3 .7 Oral and Dental Candidates must be able to be fitted with and hold a scuba mouthpiece. • Cardiac or pulmonary A-V shunts. either congenital or acquired. deviated nasal septum.9 Cardiovascular Cardiovascular defects can be disqualifying because they predispose the individual to unacceptable risks. and the cardiac response to exercise load is favorable.2. pancreatitis.12 Endocrinological These conditions may be disqualifying: • Diabetes mellitus should be disqualifying.

situations. Topics presented during the NOAA Working Diving Course include: • Diving Physics: pressure. several deep dives (>100 ft. and training in variable-volume dry suits. The primary course used to prepare and certify NOAA personnel for participation in diving operations is the NOAA Working Diver Course. should be practiced repeatedly to ensure automatic response in emergencies. however.2. training tank. and reduce the likelihood of the diver losing control and panicking (Bachrach and Egstrom 1986). confined. diver training should expose the trainee to a wide variety of diving-related experiences in addition to teaching the basics. and environments typically encountered as NOAA working divers. density. hypothermia.1. hypoxia.14 Obstetric and Gynecological Pregnancy is absolutely disqualifying because of the possible risk of bubble formation in the developing fetus during decompression and the risk of arterializing otherwise benign bubbles through patent foramen ovale and ductus arteriosis. students receive approximately 65 hours of classroom instruction and 75 hours of practical instruction aimed at exposing them to a variety of equipment. sidestroke. hypocapnia. diving gases. For example. However. hyperthermia.2 meters) using the crawl. including 7. and buoyancy requirements • Diving Physiology and Medicine: the anatomy and mechanics of circulation and respiration.1). and the self-confidence ( but not overconfidence) necessary to operate safely in the field. and the gas laws and their practical application in diving.3 Swimming Skills All applicants for NOAA scuba diver training shall perform the following swimming exercises without face masks. three-week program is designed to train NOAA employees in various facets of diving and underwater work techniques. Regardless of the training organization. fins. and open water) with visibility ranging from many feet to inches.2 TRAINING PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS 7. and breaststroke • Swim under water for a distance of 25 yards (22. The extensive. 7. Formal training courses are only the first step in becoming a safe and efficient diver.1 Classroom It is important for the candidate to develop a general understanding of diving principles. anoxia. calculation of air consumption and supply. Students must successfully complete all water work and pass all written examinations in order to receive certification. 7. any diver training program should produce: • Divers who reach a level of competence that will permit safe open-water diving • Divers who can respond to emergency situations and make appropriate decisions when faced with problems under water • Divers who can execute assigned underwater tasks safely and efficiently FIGURE 7. With this in mind.1 Pool Used for Skin and Scuba Diving Skills 7-4 NOAA Diving Manual . Dives are conducted in several different locations (pool. Training courses vary widely among organizations with respect to length.2. NOAA personnel often receive basic scuba training before they become NOAA diver candidates. complexity. specific gravity.1 Scuba Training Although NOAA has its own diver training and certification program. the diving environment.1. there are basic practices and procedures that should be included in any scuba training program. temperature. particularly those of a lifesaving nature.9 meters) without surfacing • Stay afloat for 30 minutes Diving procedures.7. hyperpnea. or > 30 m). tasks. buoyancy. apnea. content. or snorkels and with confidence and good watermanship: • Swim 500 yards (457. the effects of immersion on the body.2. Students perform a variety of underwater projects to develop self-confidence and manual dexterity and to instill the team approach to underwater problem solving. all courses should include both classroom sessions and in-water training (see Figure 7. hypercapnia. the direct and indirect effects of pressure (squeeze and lung overpressure. The course also includes an orientation dive in a hyperbaric chamber. The core elements of NOAA’s training program for working divers are discussed in detail in the following sections. and water skills required.1. During the course. Details of various diving systems and ancillary equipment will be learned as part of on-the-job training.

salvage and object lifting. introduction to recompression chambers and treatment procedures. fins. selection of dive team. 7. temperate. restricted visibility. overexertion. and river. dive equipment.2. precautions required by special conditions (e. etc. Breath-hold or skin diving can be hazardous. and snorkel. near-drowning. variable-volume dry suits. and research divers using this technique must be competent swimmers in excellent physical condition. warning signal requirements. snorkel. small boat. ship husbandry. Because breath-holding can cause serious problems. To master skin (breath-hold) and scuba diving. work project. thermoclines. The skin diver is subject to barotrauma of the ears and sinuses. and care of diver-worn gear. just as any other diver is. pressure equalization. breathing resistance. boating safety.3) and open-water skills evaluated/taught during the NOAA Working Diver Course include: • Watermanship evaluation (NOAA swim test) • Skin diving skills – Predive equipment assembly and inspection – Mask clearing – Snorkel clearing – Buoyancy control with swim vest (manual inflation/deflation) – Water entries – Kicks – Swimming with mask. definition of tasks. decompression. divers should thoroughly understand the potential hazards of prolonged breath-holding under water. and scuba – Dry suit blow-up management and prevention – Mask. currents). Introduction to Decompression Theory: definition of terms. emergency planning. incidents. special equipment requirements. Individuals expected to conduct dives in cold water should be exposed to such conditions in a controlled training environment prior to performing working dives. harbor. fins.2. waves and beaches. operation and maintenance of air compressors and compressor systems. development of accidentmanagement plans. and underwater navigation methods Accident Prevention: management. use of oxygen first aid equipment including positivepressure/demand valves. arctic. work techniques and tools.g. fixed structures. cylinder-filling procedures. underwater swimming. buddy teams. inert gas narcosis.” and psychological factors such as panic Equipment Care and Maintenance: selection. and swim vest – Ear equalization during descent – Surface dives/descents/ascents – Rescues • Scuba diving skills – Predive equipment assembly and inspection – Water entries and exits (shore. a habitat. Students should be exposed to open-water conditions while diving at night. recognition of pressure-related accident signs and symptoms. surface dives. and then to a variety of open-water situations is essential to diver training. and large vessel platforms. fins.• • • • • • • • arterial gas embolism. basic principles of first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). procedures for search and recovery. drowning. patient handling en route to treatment. instrument deployment and maintenance. pollution. exhaustion. rip currents. hand and line signals. boats. surface swimming. and weight belt removal and replacement under water Diver and Support Personnel Training 7-5 . requirements for testing and inspection of specific types of equipment (including scuba cylinders). recovery of victims and boat evacuation procedures. gas mixtures. Specific pool (see Figures 7. diver recall systems. decompression sickness. water conditions.2 Pool and Open Water A training program that progresses from pool to protected open water. dangers of diving at high altitude or flying after diving Diving Procedures: relationship of operations planning to diving procedures. breathing gas contaminants. and air purity standards and testing Diving Platforms: shore. and under conditions of reduced visibility. wet suit. and setup and check out of support platforms Recordkeeping: dive logs including diving profile. single and repetitive diving principles and practical decompression table problems. snorkel. “dead space. air embolism and related complications are a problem only if the skin diver breathes compressed gas from a scuba cylinder. proper use. structure and content of diving tables. data collection. dive station setup and postdive procedures.1. and water entry and exit Operations Planning: objectives. an understanding is required of the proper use of mask. and oxygen toxicity).. water emergencies. and tropical conditions). or even an underwater air/gas pocket. and rescue techniques. selection of equipment. fins. and procedures for reporting accident investigations Diving Environment and Hazardous Marine Life: tides and currents (surf. safety precautions and surface-support requirements in vessel diving. tending. piers) – Regulator clearing and recovery – Snorkel/regulator exchange – Buoyancy control with BC and variable-volume dry suits (descents/ascents/on-bottom/hovering) – Swimming with mask. and marine life hazards 7. however.

students perform a minimum of six pool dives and 25 open-water dives. which provides the diver with an unlimited breathing gas supply. tank pull. a diver applying for umbilical training should be certified as an advanced working diver. In NOAA. ascent. cylinder air pressure) – Underwater search and navigation – Use of tools and equipment under water Light hand and pneumatic tools (wrenches. tired swimmer push) – Surfacing an unconscious diver – Aquatic rescue breathing – Dive profile information recording (depth. FIGURE 7. disassembling. and operation of gas supply systems • Use of accessory tools and equipment basic to umbilical procedures and specific to the particular tasks being contemplated • Methods of achieving intelligible communication • Equipment repair and maintenance • Water entry. saws. bottom time. pliers) Lift bags Acoustic listening devices ( pinger locators) Wireless communications Hand held sonar units During the NOAA Working Diver Course. 7.FIGURE 7. an open-water qualification test that includes both general diving techniques and actual working procedures should be given. The instructor-to-student ratio during this training is 1:8 for pool dives and 1:4 for open-water dives. including octopus use and pony bottles) – Controlled emergency swimming ascent – Tired swimmer’s carry – Buddy transport (do-si-do. the diver’s breathing gas is supplied via an umbilical from the surface.2 Umbilical Dive Training Umbilical diving is also referred to as surface-supplied diving. 7-6 NOAA Diving Manual . ten are performed using variable-volume dry suits with the remainder being made in wet suits. Preliminary selection procedures and criteria for umbilical dive training are essentially the same as those for basic scuba.2. the trainee should receive instruction and training in: • The general purpose and limitations of surfacesupplied (umbilical) diving • Equipment used in umbilical diving • Assembling. descent. Before qualifying as an umbilical diver. which requires the completion of at least 150 logged dives.3 Predive Briefing Of the open-water dives.2 Checking Scuba DiverÕs Equipment – Underwater communications (hand-signals) – Air sharing (buddy-breathing. and emergency procedures • Tending umbilical divers When initial training is completed. In umbilical diving.

and other support equipment • Demonstrate proper procedures of dressing and undressing a diver. The use of weight belts during saturation diving adds an unnecessary potential point of failure. Detailed descriptions of umbilical diving equipment and its use appear in Chapters 5 and 6. 7. since divers do not have the luxury of ascending to the surface to reorient themselves relative to the habitat location. for practices and procedures related to saturation diving. The curriculum for NOAA’s Nitrox Training Program includes coverage of the following topics: • • • • • • • • • • • NOAA oxygen partial pressure limits NOAA NN32 and NN36 breathing mixtures Depth/time limits for oxygen during working dives Central nervous system and pulmonary oxygen toxicity Analysis of nitrox breathing mixtures Nitrox diving equipment (open-circuit systems) Equivalent air depth concept and calculation NOAA NN32 and NN36 decompression tables Safe handling of oxygen Introduction to gas mixing techniques Oxygen equipment cleaning NOAA nitrox trainees attend classroom sessions and then progress to open-water dives. For this reason. demonstrating control of air flow. including air supply systems.7. and entanglement • Participate in at least two practice dives.. For example. mobility. communications. Diving From Seafloor Habitats.1 and 15. The use of steel cylinders (as opposed to aluminum) also eliminates the need for a separate weight system (i. weight belt).2. – The utilization of a redundant regulator system (two separate first and second stage regulators) provides an alternative regulator system in case of a complete failure of the diver’s primary regulator. mask/helmet. and familiarity with communication systems – Ascend and leave water in a prescribed manner – Properly enter water that is between 30 and 50 feet (9. – The use of redundant pressure gauges (cylinder pressure) allows the monitoring of pressure within each individual cylinder.4 Saturation Training This section introduces the basic components of training for saturation dives. candidates must demonstrate the ability to: • Plan and organize a surface-supplied air dive operation • Demonstrate ability to rig all surface and underwater equipment properly.e. • Line reels (cave or safety reels) must be used when divers are working away from the excursion lines (lines leading directly to the habitat). 7. See Chapter 17. The inability to find one’s way back to the habitat would constitute an emergency situation. should isolation of the manifold be necessary. The diver’s “home base” during saturation usually is either a seafloor habitat or a diving bell system. the saturation diver needs a fundamental reorientation to his new underwater environment. Diver and Support Personnel Training 7-7 .1 Qualification Test To pass the qualification test.2. The sudden unexpected loss of ballast could result in an uncontrollable ascent to the surface. Saturation diving has special requirements including: • Redundant air delivery systems: – These consist of double steel or aluminum cylinders using a manifold valve system with isolation capability. the instructor should evaluate the diver’s performance and establish a phased depth-limited diving schedule to ensure a safe. Although the basic requirements for saturation diving are the same as those for surface-based diving.2. This factor has specific implications with respect to the selection and use of certain pieces of saturation diving equipment.2. • Surface marker buoys (SMB) are used to mark either a surfaced diver or lost diver at depth. students must pass a written examination and complete two open-water dives using nitrox breathing mixtures. as described below: – Properly enter water that is at least ten feet (3 m) deep and remain submerged for at least 30 minutes.2 m) deep and conduct work-related training tasks After successful completion of this test. there are some important differences that need to be addressed during training. buoyancy. the saturation diver must constantly be aware that he cannot return to the surface in an emergency situation. In order to receive the NOAA Nitrox Certification.3 Nitrox Training Nitrox diving involves the use of a nitrogen-oxygen breathing mixture containing a higher fraction of oxygen than normally found in air. using the particular pieces of equipment needed for the working dive • Tend a surface-supplied diver • Demonstrate knowledge of the following emergency procedures: loss of voice communications. gradual exposure to deeper working depths. flooded masks and helmets. such as an extruded cylinder neck o-ring or blown ‘burst disc’. allowing the isolation of each cylinder in case of a critical equipment failure.

water boils at a higher temperature under water than on the surface: 262°F ( l28 C ) at 50. and care of exposure suits is essential to prevent skin irritation or infections. The amount of speech distortion depends on the habitat breathing mixture and the depth. an upward excursion of 10 – 15 ft (3. based on his or her academic background and research methodologies. and local diving restrictions is usually conducted on site. topographical features. Because of the high humidity encountered in most habitats. divers should be trained to use the compass in combination with topographical and grid line information. to take special care of the ears and skin. Training in habitat operations. and navigation by compass. in order to detect ear barotrauma and external ear infections (otitis externa). such as grid lines. (30. and divers must be careful to remain within the prescribed excursion limits. lifting/moving heavy objects under water.• Personal strobe lights are carried by each diver to assist topside support personnel in locating a surfaced diver at night or during limited visibility.) A deviation from normal speech intelligibility may occur as a result of depth or the breathing mixture used in 7-8 NOAA Diving Manual . Another one-third involve science-support tasks such as ship husbandry. underwater cutting. Because compasses are not always accurate. Trainees should become familiar with these tables and their limitations. Other features related to seafloor habitation also need to be identified during saturation training. upward excursions constitute a decompression. and other factors. Special diving excursion tables have been developed for excursions from the saturation depth. Divers should be instructed in the use of navigational aids. These tables are designed to consider storage depth.2.5 Research Diver Training Approximately one-third of all dives conducted by NOAA personnel directly involve scientific research (i. Most research-diver training programs require that attendees be certified scuba divers with open-water diving experience prior to enrollment in the course. • An emergency surface-communication device (UHF radio) is used by surface divers to communicate with shore-based personnel or emergency response vessels regarding their status and location. This applies not only to the divers themselves. • Saturation divers working outside the presence of trained medical personnel should be trained in the use of a simple otoscope. string highways. (15. i.6 m) can cause flooding because such equipment is not designed to resist internal pressure. cooking procedures must be altered.5 ft. For example. ripple marks. the growth of certain pathogens and organisms is stimulated and recovery is prolonged.. • Adequate thermal protection shall be worn because of the extended diving time involved in saturation which routinely causes chilling. Proper washing.. The objective of researchdiving courses is to train divers in the techniques and methods of underwater work related to scientific investigations. Aquanaut candidates should be instructed to check all equipment to be used in a habitat to determine whether it is designed to withstand both internal and external pressures. if a camera is opened and reloaded in a habitat. see Living and Working in the Sea by Miller and Koblick 1995.5 m). (For additional information on underwater habitation. Other factors directly affecting the saturated diver or a habitat diving program include the necessity to pay special attention to personal hygiene. oxygen and nitrogen partial pressures.0 – 4. 7. Training for saturation diving from underwater habitats should teach divers the procedures for making ascending and descending excursions from the storage depth. emergency procedures. Some of these relate to housekeeping chores inside the habitat. Theoretical aspects should include principles and activities appropriate to the intended area of scientific study and should be suitably tailored to the individual scientific diver. These apply not only to the use of scientific preparations. even in tropical regions.e. etc. Because the consequences of becoming lost are so serious. • Extra precautions must be taken when filling scuba cylinders under water to prevent water from entering the cylinder. Typical programs involve approximately 100 hours of theoretical instruction and practical diver training. drying. Such training includes instruction in: • • • • • • • • • Communication systems Use of special diving equipment Habitat support systems Emergency equipment Regional topography Underwater landmarks Navigational grid systems Depth and distance limitations for diver/scientists Operational and safety procedures used by the surface support team the habitat. • A self-contained backup breathing gas supply shall be used when umbilical equipment is utilized. observation or collection of data). A unique feature of saturation diving is the diver’s ability to make upward excursions. but also to the use of normally harmless items such as rubber cement (used for the repair of wet suits) and aerosol sprays. for example. but also to certain types of equipment. a saturation diving training program also should include training in underwater navigation techniques.4 m) and 292°F (144 C) at 100 ft. The remaining one-third of dives performed involve training and proficiency.e. because burned food not only constitutes a fire hazard but also produces toxic gases at depth. however. Trainees should be aware that there are restrictions with respect to the use of toxic materials in a closed-environment system such as a habitat.

Individuals or organizations wishing information about scientific diving programs in the United States.2. including NOAA. Each organization provides training that is specifically related to the goals of the organization. This degree of competence can be achieved only if the basic diving skills are learned so thoroughly that routine operations and responses to emergencies become automatic. specifically exempted from these regulations those scientific and educational diving programs that could meet certain requirements. A research organization or educational entity wishing exemption from the Federal OSHA standard must have in place a diving program that has developed a diving manual. NOAA diving supervisors receive classroom and practical “hands on” training in the following leadershiporiented topics: • • • • • • • • NOAA diving leadership Techniques for conducting dive activities Dive planning Problem management and counseling Dive rescue Diving accident management Diving first aid Diving regulations (NOAA. the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). every supervisor must have the working knowledge to plan diving projects. Therefore.Suggested topics include: • Data-gathering techniques • Collecting techniques • Installation of scientific apparatus • Use of chemicals under water • Site selection and relocation • Animal and plant identification • Tagging techniques • Underwater photography or videography • Dive planning Each of these topics should be related to the problems faced by diving scientists and their impact on the conduct of underwater investigations. 7. has a diving safety officer and diving control board. and Divemaster.4 Diver Medical Technician (DMT) Pressurizing a Hyperbaric Chamber Diver and Support Personnel Training 7-9 . OSHA. NOAA has four supervisory diving categories: Line Diving Officer.2.6 Dive Leadership Training Many organizations. however. the U. designate certain experienced divers as supervisors. The safety record of the research diving community reflects the effectiveness of current diver training and certification procedures. Maine 01908 USA or visit their website at: http:/ /www. Navy. should contact the American Academy of Underwater Sciences. it is important to ensure that all personnel operating chambers are properly trained and certified as chamber operators (see Figure 7. and has developed procedures for diving situations emergency. Nahant. so that upon completion of training. and commercial diving companies. In addition.aaus. oversee diving activities.4). 7. In 1984. USCG) Divemaster candidates are also evaluated on their ability to direct and supervise diving operations under normal and emergency conditions.S.org. which had promulgated regulations in 1978 governing commercial diving operations. Diving safety should be emphasized throughout the course. and investigate accidents. conduct inspections. all diving supervisors are required to have a broad range of diving experience. Unit Diving Supervisor. the divers feel completely comfortable in the water and are able to concentrate their energies on the scientific tasks at hand.7 Chamber Operator Training The operation and maintenance of hyperbaric chambers are a necessary part of many diving programs. 430 Nahant Road. The NOAA training program for chamber operators includes the following topics: • Introduction to hyperbaric chambers • Chamber setup and subsystems – Predive and postdive procedures – Plumbing – Certifying and testing requirements – Internal mufflers and filters – Controls – Life-support and emergency procedures – Breathing and communication systems – Maintenance procedures – Overboard dump and BIBS (Built-in Breathing System) • Recordkeeping • Introduction to diving physics • Decompression theory and decompression tables • Recompression theory and treatment tables • Barotrauma • Examination and handling of patients • Emergency management of decompression sickness and air embolism FIGURE 7. Diving Instructor.

7. a Diving Medical Technician ( DMT ) trained in the care of diving casualties can be assigned to the site (see Figures 7. The issuance of NOAA visual cylinder inspection stickers is tightly controlled.6 Two DMTs Assessing an Injured Diver • • • • • • • Inside tending procedures Chamber medical kit contents and use Review of case histories Hands-on experience with simulated treatments Chamber operation procedures Environmental control Gas analysis • Use of inspection equipment (e. Experts determined that the most workable solution to this need was to cross-train working divers as medics.2. the need for medical technicians specializing in the emergency treatment of diving casualties was recognized. The interest in diving medical technicians grew with the development of offshore drilling platforms. Students who successfully complete the course are certified as cylinder inspectors. NOAA follows the training standards of the NBDHMT for training and certification of DMT instructors and DMTs. can respond to emergency medical situations and can also communicate effectively with a physician located far from the diving site. inconvenience. and premature dive termination. probes. An individual so trained. NOAA and other organizations have instituted a training and certification program for scuba-cylinder inspectors. lost time.9 Diver Medical Technician Training Although there are obvious advantages to having a qualified hyperbaric physician at a diving site. The cylinder-inspection course covers the following topics: • • • • • Reasons for cylinder inspection Frequency of inspection Types of inspection Analysis of cylinder structure and accessories Criteria of inspection (e.2.6). Although fatal diving accident statistics rarely show that equipment failure is the cause of death. scuba cylinders. As an alternative.. In the late 1970s.FIGURE 7. and other life-support system components. this is often not practical. lights. Only trained and qualified personnel should perform maintenance and repair of diving equipment.8 Equipment Maintenance Training Training in equipment maintenance is an important element in any diving program. This specialized need arose because existing EMT training programs were heavily oriented toward urban ambulance-hospital emergency systems. 7. flushing solutions) • Detailed inspection sequence • Inspection of a minimum of ten cylinders under the supervision of an instructor 7. wall thickness. The National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology ( NBDHMT) was founded in 1981 and. equipment malfunction does cause near-misses. The objective of these programs is to ensure that uniform minimum inspection standards are used at diving facilities. since using a diver as a medic made it unnecessary to have an additional person standing by. a number of training organizations were approved to provide DMT training.5 Hyperbaric Physician Setting up Intervenous Solution FIGURE 7.5. especially regulators.g.. material and valve specifications) • Evaluation of cylinder interior and exterior 7-10 NOAA Diving Manual . by 1985. This choice to train working divers as medical technicians was also driven by economic considerations. rather than to train medics to treat diving casualties.g.

the personal impetus to become an expert in hyperbaric medicine derives from the Physicians trained in hyperbaric medicine are an important resource for the diver. NBDHMT approved DMT instructors are authorized to conduct boardsponsored DMT training programs. EMT-Paramedic. several organizations offer specialized training. and the Undersea Research Foundation. The course includes training in the following areas: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Physical and physiological effects of pressure Physiological effects of gases Life-support parameters and systems Fundamentals of inert gas exchange Decompression theory and procedures Recompression therapy Diagnosis and treatment of diving casualties Ear. however.DMT instructors are required to submit course curricula to the NBDHMT for approval as well as evidence of their experience in emergency and diving medicine. 7. the U. or public safety diving. Air Force have been the primary sources of expertise and trained personnel in hyperbaric medicine. or when in direct telephone contact with a Divers Alert Network-recognized hyperbaric physician. scientific. such as an arterial gas embolism or decompression sickness. discontinue diving and Diver and Support Personnel Training 7-11 . UHMS. and throat problems Patent foramen ovale Hypothermia and hyperthermia in undersea and hyperbaric systems High pressure nervous syndrome Diving in polluted water Tunnel and caisson workers Oxygen toxicity Saturation diving Commercial diving Recreational diving Recompression chamber operation and safety procedures Pressure exposures in recompression chambers Orientation dives in commercial diving equipment Hyperbaric oxygen therapy DMT-Advanced training is also based on the EMT-B program. this program has trained hundreds of physicians to date. In the event of a diving accident related to pressure. Navy and U. Telephone (504) 328 . In many cases. The best source of information on the availability of courses in hyperbaric medicine is the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). but includes a number of important additions. Since conventional medical education includes very little training related to diving and hyperbaric medicine. nose. and phone number of the nearest hyperbaric facility and/or hyperbaric physician in his area. which is located at 10531 Metropolitan Avenue. One of the most respected and comprehensive training courses in hyperbaric medicine in the United States is the program offered by NOAA. or other advanced emergency medical skills. DMT-Basic training is based on the EMT-B program and consists of approximately 40 hours of lecture and practical training in the following areas: • • • • • • Pathophysiology of DCS and AGE Signs & symptoms of DCS and AGE Treatment of DCS and AGE Diving-related neurological exam Chamber safety and operation Charting and record keeping fact that the physician is also a diver. the need for physicians trained to treat civilian diving casualties has increased. and have completed medical training prior to taking an approved DMT course. Such a physician may be a general practitioner or a specialist in any branch of medicine. and other special procedures. Historically. simple suture techniques. Because it may be hours or even days before medical help arrives in an emergency diving situation.S. pneumothorax stabilization. Accordingly. DMT-Advanced training consists of approximately 60 hours of lecture and practical training. Navy. Harvey.S. There are two levels of DMT certifications: basic and advanced.. Certified basic DMTs are protected under United States Law in the administration of basic life support.2. Because of the increase in the number of divers. advanced DMTs receive training in parenteral drug administration. Advanced DMTs are legally allowed to use advanced life-support techniques only when operating under direct or standing orders from an employer and the employer’s full-time or retained hyperbaric physician. students may apply for certification by the NBDHMT. These courses range from a series of lectures to more intensive courses lasting several weeks. special training in this area is necessary to ensure the diving community has medical personnel knowledgeable in the recognition and treatment of diving-related accidents and injuries. Upon successful completion of an approved DMT course. For more information on the DMT program.10 Hyperbaric Physician Training A hyperbaric physician is a medical doctor with special training in the treatment of medical problems related to diving and/or elevated atmospheric pressure. In response to this need. address. All DMTs must be recertified every two years and must attend 24 hours of lectures and serve 24 hours in an ambulance/emergency room situation to maintain their certification. Maryland 20895 USA or website: http:/ /www. Started in 1977 with financial support from the Department of Energy and the cooperation of the U.S. airway management. EMT-ACLS.org.uhms. Kensington. This level of training may be EMT-B. the advanced DMT must be capable of delivering more support than a medical technician in an urban area. intravenous infusion techniques. Every diver should obtain the name. The NBDHMT requires that DMT students have a background in commercial. Louisiana 70058. contact the NBDHMT at 1816 Industrial Blvd.8871.

In such instances. underwater video systems. NOAA divers may be called upon to use specialized equipment or procedures in the performance of their duties.e. training must be obtained from the NOAA Diving Center or sources approved by the NOAA Diving Program.e. surface-supplied.) • Underwater tools (i.. hookah.2.e. wireless communication systems. trimix. and nitrox are core subjects included in the NOAA Working Diver Course (see Figure 7. etc. wet-submersibles. nitrox.7). contaminated-water gear.) • Special breathing mixtures other than air (i.11 Other Training Requirements In addition to knowing how to use basic scuba diving equipment and techniques. rebreathers. pneumatic-powered hand tools.e. oxygen.7 Instructing Diver Trainees The use of variable-volume dry suits.contact DAN on the emergency hotline (919) 684-8111 before returning to a hyperbaric environment.) FIGURE 7. pingers/locators. Hyperbaric chambers are described in Chapter 18. Certification in the use of variable-volume dry suits by NOAA requires a minimum of five open-water training dives.. resulting in a cumulative bottom time of at least 120 minutes. 7. etc. and the treatment of diving casualties is discussed in Appendix V. cutting torches) • In-water decompression techniques • Special dive-support equipment (i. towed sleds. diver-propulsion vehicles. etc.. pinger/sonar locators.. heliox. Examples of types of specialized equipment and procedures requiring special training include: • Variable-volume dry suits • Equipment other than standard open-circuit scuba (i. 7-12 NOAA Diving Manual .

This CD-ROM product is produced and distributed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). U. Visit our Web site at www. Department of Commerce and Best Publishing Company. .S. U.gov.The NOAA Diving Manual was prepared jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Department of Commerce.S.ntis.

. . . . . . . .4.1 8. . . . . . . . . .2. 8-11 8. . . . . . . . . . . .2 Surface-to-Diver Recall Signals . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . .3 Line Signals .3 8. . . . . . . .3 8. . . . . . . . .4.2.1 Selection of Diving Equipment . .3 8. . . . . . . . .2 Diving Medical Officer/ Diving Medical Technician . . . . . . . .2 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 DIVE TEAM ORGANIZATION . . . . .2 Underwater Environmental Conditions . . . . . . . . .3 Science Coordinator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Surface-Supplied Air Requirements. . . . . . . . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-11 8. . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . . 8-11 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Divemaster . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3. .5 AIR CONSUMPTION RATES .3 8. . . . . . . .5. . . . .5 Support Divers and Other Support Personnel . .1 Surface Environmental Conditions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Determining Individual Air Utilization Rates . .4. . . . . . . . . . .2 8. . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . 8. .4. . . . . . . .2. . . 8-11 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . 8-16 8. .4 8. . . . . . . . . . .5.4 Divers. . . . . . . . . .3 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0 GENERAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . .2 8. . 8. . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-14 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-17 . . . . . . . . . .2. 8. . . 8. . . . 8.3. . . . . . .8 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Dive Planning 8 PAGE SECTION 8. . . . .2 Scuba Duration . . . .8 8. .1 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Hand Signals . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 DIVE PLANNING.3 Scuba Air Requirements . . 8-14 8. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8. . . . . . . . .4 Surface Signals . . . . . . . . . . .3 ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS . . .5. . .5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1. . . .4 DIVING SIGNALS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 8. .

S. etc. and all safety precautions – Outline diving assignments and sequence – Complete and post on-site emergency checklist – Review diver qualifications and conditions – Secure permission from command or boat captain for dive Briefing/Debriefing the Diving Team – The objective and scope of the operation – Conditions in the operating area – Diving techniques and equipment to be used – Personnel assignments – Specific assignments for each diver – Anticipated hazards – Normal safety precautions – Any special considerations – Group discussion period to answer questions by members of the diving team 8-1 . It should include at least the following: • Definition of Objectives – A clear statement of the purpose and goals of the operation • Analysis of Pertinent Data – Surface conditions. including water temperature. Divers can also use umbilical-supplied air with a scuba regulator. visibility. The nature of each dive operation determines the scope of the planning required.1 DIVE PLANNING Careful and thorough planning are the keys to conducting an efficient diving operation and are imperative for diver safety as well. type of bottom. repair. air temperature.Dive Planning 8 8. U. This section deals with planning for air dives. and storage of gear – Debriefing of divers and support personnel Final Preparations and Safety Checks – Review of dive plan. and hazards – Assistance and emergency information. including location. operational methods of calculating air supply requirements. air evacuation team. • 8. tools. tides and currents. extent of pollution. and contact procedures for the nearest recompression chamber. depth. The most frequently used mode is open-circuit scuba.0 GENERAL Diving with air as the breathing gas is conducted using a variety of life-support equipment. such as sea state. its effect. and either a full-face mask or a lightweight diving helmet. – Water – Communications Schedule of Operational Tasks for All Phases – Transit to the site – Assembling dive gear and support equipment – Predive briefing – Calculating allowable/required bottom time – Recovery – Cleaning. including a backup supply – Dive platform and support equipment. and nearest hospital • Diving Team Selection – Divemaster – Medical personnel – Tenders/timekeeper – Coxswain/surface-support personnel • Diving Mode Selection – Skin (snorkeling) • • • – Open-circuit scuba – Rebreathers – Surface-supplied – Hookah Equipment and Supplies Selection – Breathing gas. where the diver carries the compressed air supply. personnel requirements. Coast Guard. and wind chill factor – Underwater conditions. inspection. The dive plan should take into account the ability of the least qualified diver on the team and be flexible enough to allow for delays and unforeseen problems. and environmental conditions. including diver/crew shelter – Oxygen resuscitator and first aid kit – Backboard – Dive flag – Diving gear. status.

8.1.1 Selection of Diving Equipment The selection of the proper diving equipment depends on environmental conditions, qualifications of diving personnel, objectives of the operation, and diving procedures to be used. Although most diving is performed at depths less than 130 ft. (39.6 m) and often uses open-circuit scuba, some missions can be accomplished using only skin diving equipment. Other more complex assignments require surface-supplied or closedcircuit systems. Depth and duration of the dive, questions about the type of work to be accomplished (heavy work, light work, silent work), temperature of the water, velocity and nature of current, visibility, logistics, and the diver’s experience and capabilities all influence the selection of diving equipment. Detailed descriptions of the various types of diving equipment are presented in Chapter 5. For planning purposes, the following guidelines may be used in selecting the appropriate diving equipment. Breath-Hold Diving Equipment Generally Used For: • Scientific observation and specimen collection in shallow water in areas where more complex equipment is a disadvantage or is not available • Shallow-water photography • Scouting for diving sites Major Advantages: • Less physical work required to cover large surface areas • Simplified logistics • Fewer medical/physiological complications Major Disadvantages: • Extremely limited in depth and duration • Requires diver to develop breath-holding techniques • Can only be used in good sea conditions Open-Circuit Scuba Generally Used For: • Scientific observation • Light underwater work and recovery • Sample collection • Shallow-water research • Ship inspection and light repair Major Advantages: • Minimum support requirements • Mobility • Accessibility and economy of equipment and breathing medium • Portability • Reliability Major Disadvantages: • Lack of efficient voice communication • Limited depth and duration

Umbilical-Supplied Systems Generally Used For: • Scientific investigation • Ship repair and inspection • Salvage • Long-duration scientific observation and data gathering • Harsh environments (low visibility, strong currents, polluted water) Major Advantages: • Long duration • Voice communication • Protection of diver from environment Major Disadvantages: • Limited mobility • Significant support requirements Closed-Circuit Systems Generally Used For: • Observations of long duration Major Advantages: • Mixed-gas capability • No noise or bubbles • Conservation of breathing medium • Long duration Major Disadvantages: • Complicated maintenance • Extensive training requirements • Cost of equipment

8.2.1 Divemaster NOAA Divemasters have complete responsibility for the safe and efficient conduct of all NOAA diving operations. In order to be a NOAA Divemaster, individuals must be certified NOAA Working Divers, or higher, and have completed the NOAA Divemaster training program. When no divemaster is present, diving should not be conducted. The divemaster’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: • Overall responsibility for the diving operation • Safe execution of all diving • Preparation of a basic plan of operation, including evacuation and accident management plans • Liaison with other organizations • Inspection of equipment • Proper maintenance, repair, and stowage of equipment • Selection, evaluation, and briefing of divers and other personnel • Monitoring progress of the operation, and updating requirements as necessary • Maintaining the diving log • Monitoring of decompression (when required) • Coordination of boat operations when divers are in the water


NOAA Diving Manual

The divemaster is responsible for assigning all divers to an operation and for ensuring that their qualifications are adequate for the requirements of the dive. The divemaster must ensure that all divers are briefed thoroughly about the mission and goals of the operation. Individual responsibilities are assigned to each diver by the divemaster. Where special tools or techniques are to be used, the divemaster must ensure that each diver is familiar with their application. Training and proficiency dives should be made to ensure safe and efficient operations. During complex operations or those involving a large number of divers, divemasters should perform no diving, but should, instead, devote their efforts entirely to directing the operation. The divemaster is in charge when divers are in the water during diving operations. Before any change is made to the boat’s propulsion system (e.g., change in speed, direction, etc.), the boat captain must consult with the divemaster. 8.2.2 Diving Medical Officer/Diving Medical Technician When it is not practical to have a qualified diving medical officer on site, a Diving Medical Technician trained in the care of diving casualties shall be assigned. The DMT is trained to respond to emergency medical situations and to communicate effectively with a physician not at the diving site. There are specialized courses available to train Diving Medical Technicians in the care of diving casualties. In the event that neither a physician nor a trained technician is available, the divemaster should have available the names and phone numbers of at least three diving medical specialists who can be reached for advice in an emergency. Emergency consultation is available from the service centers listed below. Referred to as a “Bends Watch,” each of these services is available to provide advice on the treatment of diving casualties: • Divers Alert Network, Peter B. Bennett Center, 6 West Colony Place, Durham, North Carolina 27705, telephone (919) 684 -8111 (ask for the Diving Accident Physician) • Navy Experimental Diving Unit, Panama City, Florida 32407, telephone (850) 234 - 4351 • Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas 78235, telephone (210) 536-3278 ( before 7:00 a.m. and after 4:15 p.m. MST ), emergency call (210) 5363281 ( Monday thru Friday between 7:00 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. MST) All diving personnel shall have access to the phone numbers of these facilities, available at all times, especially if they will be diving in remote areas. 8.2.3 Science Coordinator On missions where diving is performed in support of scientific programs, a chief scientist may be needed.

The chief scientist is the prime point of contact for all scientific aspects of the program, including scientific equipment, its use, calibration, and maintenance. Working with the divemaster, the chief scientist will brief divers on specific scientific tasks to be completed and supervise the debriefing and sample or data accumulation after a dive. 8.2.4 Divers Although the divemaster is responsible for the overall diving operation, the diver is responsible for being in proper physical condition, for checking out personal equipment before the dive, and for thoroughly understanding the purpose and the procedures to be used for the dive. The diver is also responsible for refusing to dive when conditions are unsafe, when not in good mental or physical condition, or when diving would violate dictates of their training or applicable standards. 8.2.5 Support Divers and Other Support Personnel In most diving operations, the number and types of support divers depend on the size of the operation and the type of diving equipment used. Ideally, those surface-support personnel working directly with the diver also should be qualified divers. Using unqualified personnel who do not understand diving techniques and terminology may cause confusion and can be dangerous. Persons not qualified as divers can be used when the need arises, but only after they have demonstrated that they understand procedures to the satisfaction of the divemaster.

Environmental conditions at a dive site should be considered when planning a diving operation. Environmental conditions can be divided into surface conditions and underwater conditions. Surface conditions include weather, sea state, and amount of ship traffic. Underwater conditions include depth, bottom type, currents, water temperatures, and visibility. Regional and special diving conditions are discussed in Chapter 12. 8.3.1 Surface Environmental Conditions When planning a dive, weather conditions are an important factor. Whenever possible, diving operations should be cancelled or delayed during bad weather. Current and historical weather data should be reviewed to determine if conditions are acceptable and are predicted to continue long enough to complete the mission. Continuous marine weather broadcasts are provided by NOAA on the following frequencies depending on the local area: 162.40 MHz, 162.475 MHz, or 162.55 MHz These broadcasts can be heard in most areas of the United States and require only the purchase of a VHF radio receiver. Weather radios are designed to receive only NOAA radio broadcasts. Regular weather forecasts and

Dive Planning


Wave Height ~ Feet (Avg)

SS6 Waves Start to Roll SS5 Spindrift Forms SS3 White Caps Form

FIGURE 8.1 Sea States special marine warnings are available any time of the day or night. Although both receivers pick up weather signals from approximately the same distance, the two-way systems have the advantage of transmission quality. In some cases, surface weather conditions may influence the selection of diving equipment. For instance, even though water temperature may permit the use of standard wetsuits, cold air temperature and wind may dictate that a dry suit (or equivalent) should be worn when diving from an open or unheated platform. Whenever possible, avoid or limit diving in moderate seas. Sea state limitations depend to a large degree on the type and size of the diving platform. Diving operations may be conducted in rougher seas from properly moored larger platforms such as diving barges, ocean-going ships, or fixed structures. When using self-contained equipment, divers should avoid entering the ocean in heavy seas or surf, as well as high, short-period swell. If bad weather sets in after a diving operation has commenced, all divers should be recalled. Except in an emergency, divers should not attempt scuba or surface-supplied diving in rough seas (see Figure 8.1 and Table 8.1). Because many diving operations are conducted in harbors, rivers, or major shipping channels, the presence of ship traffic often presents serious problems. At times, it may be necessary to close off the area around the dive site or to limit the movement of ships in the vicinity of the dive site. Ship traffic should be considered during dive planning, and a local “Notice to Mariners” should be issued. Anytime diving operations are to be conducted in the vicinity of other ships, other vessels should be notified by message or signal that diving is taking place. Signal flags, shapes, and lights are shown in Table 8.2. If the dive operation is to be conducted in the middle of an active fishing ground, divers must assume that people with various levels of experience and competence will be operating small boats in the vicinity and may not be acquainted with the meaning of diving signals. Take the necessary precautions to ensure that they remain clear of the area. Surface visibility is important. Reduced visibility may seriously hinder or force postponement of diving operations. If operations are to be conducted in a known fog bank, the diving schedule should allow for probable delays caused by low visibility. The safety of the diver and support crew is the prime consideration in determining whether surface visibility is adequate. For example, in low surface visibility conditions, a surfacing scuba diver might not be able to find the support craft or might be in danger of being struck by surface traffic. 8.3.2 Underwater Environmental Conditions Dive depth is a basic consideration in the selection of personnel, equipment, and techniques. Depth should be determined as accurately as possible in the planning phases, and dive duration, air requirements, and decompression schedules should be planned accordingly. The type of bottom affects divers ability to see and work. Mud (silt and clay) bottoms generally are the most limiting because the slightest movement will stir sediment into suspension, restricting visibility. The diver must orient himself so that any current will carry the suspended sediment away from the work area. Also, the diver should develop a mental picture of his surroundings so that his safe ascent to the surface is possible even in conditions of zero visibility. Sand bottoms usually present little problem because visibility restrictions caused by suspended sediment are less severe than with mud bottoms. In addition, sandy bottoms provide firm footing. Coral reefs are solid but contain many sharp protrusions. Divers should wear gloves and coveralls or a wetsuit for protection if the operation requires contact with the coral. Learn to identify and avoid corals and other marine organisms that might inflict injury. There’s also the concern of not inflicting unnecessary damage to the environment during the process of studying it.


NOAA Diving Manual

TABLE 8.1 Sea State Chart

(Beaufort) Wind Force

Wind Velocity (Knots) Significant Range of Periods (Seconds) Wave Height Feet Average 1/10 Highest

I (Average Wave Length)

t (Average Period)

Range (Knots)


Sea State Description

0 1

Sea like a mirror



Less than 1 1–3




Minimum Fetch (Nautical Miles) – 5 8 9.8 10 18 24 28 40 55 65 75 100 130 140 180 230 280 290 340

Ripples with the appearance of scales are formed, but without foam crests. Small wavelets still, but more pronounced; short crests have a glassy appearance, but do not break.


Light Airs




up to 1.2 sec.


10 in.

18 min.


Light Breeze







6.7 ft.

39 min.

2 3 4 5 6

Large wavelets, crests begin to break. Foam of glassy appearance. Perhaps scattered white caps. Small waves, becoming larger, fairly frequent white caps.


Gentle Breeze


8.5 10

0.6 0.88

1.2 1.8

0.8–5.0 1.0–6.0

2.4 2.9

20 27


Moderate Breeze


12 13.5 14 16 18 19 20

1.4 1.8 2.0 2.9 3.8 4.3 5.0

2.8 3.7 4.2 5.8 7.8 8.7 10

1.0–7.0 1.4–7.6 1.5–7.8 2.0–8.8 2.5–10.0 2.8–1.0.6 3.0–11.1

3.4 3.9 4.0 4.6 5.1 5.4 5.7

40 52 59 71 90 95 111

Moderate waves, taking a more pronounced long form; many white caps are formed. (Chance of some spray.) Large waves begin to form, the white foam crests are more extensive everywhere. (Probably some spray.)


Fresh Breeze



Strong Breeze


22 24 24.5 26 28 30 30.5 32

6.4 7.9 8.2 9.6 11 14 14 16

13 16 17 20 23 28 29 33

3.4–12.2 3.7–13.5 3.8–13.6 4.0–14.5 4.5–15.5 4.7–16.7 4.8–17.0 5.0–17.5

6.3 6.8 7.0 7.4 7.9 8.6 8.7 9.1

134 160 164 188 212 250 258 285

Sea heaps up and white 7 foam from breaking waves begins to be blown in streaks along the direction of the wind. (Spindrift begins to be seen.)

Moderate Gale


Dive Planning


Minimum Duration (Hours) – 1.7 2.4 3.8 4.8 5.2 6.6 8.3 9.2 10 12 14 15 17 20 23 24 27


TABLE 8.1 Sea State Chart (continued)

(Beaufort) Wind Force

Wind Velocity (Knots) Significant Range of Periods (Seconds) Wave Height Feet Average 1/10 Highest

I (Average Wave Length)

t (Average Period)

Range (Knots)


Sea State Description


Moderately high waves of greater length; edges of crests break into spindrift. The foam is blown in well marked streaks along the direction of the wind. Spray affects visibility. High waves. Dense streaks of foam along the direction of the wind. Sea begins to roll. Visibility affected.


Fresh Gale


34 36 37 38 40

19 21 23 25 28

38 44 46.7 50 58

5.5–18.5 5.8–19.7 6–20.5 6.2–20.8 6.5–21.7

9.7 10.3 10.5 10.7 11.4

322 363 376 392 444

Minimum Fetch (Nautical Miles) 420 500 530 600 710 830 960 1110 1250 1420 1560 1610 1800 2100 2500



Strong Gale


42 44 46

31 36 40

64 73 81

7–23 7–24.2 7–25

12.0 12.5 13.1

492 534 590

Very high waves with long 10 overhanging crests. The resulting foam is in great patches and is blown in dense white streaks along the direction of the wind. On the whole, the surface of the sea takes a white appearance. The rolling of the sea becomes heavy and shocklike. Visibility is affected.

Whole Gale


48 50 51.5 52 54

44 49 52 54 59

90 99 106 110 121

7.5–26 7.5–27 8–28.2 8–28.5 8–29.5

13.8 14.3 14.7 14.8 15.4

650 700 736 750 810


Exceptionally high waves. 11 (Small and medium-sized ships might be lost to view behind the waves for a long time.) The sea is completely covered with long white patches of foam lying along the direction of the wind. Everywhere the edges of the wave crests are blown into froth. Visibility affected. Air filled with foam and spray. Sea completely white with driving spray; visibility very seriously affected.



56 59.5

64 73

130 148

8.5–31 10–32

16.3 17.0

910 985

12 Hurricane








NOAA Diving Manual

Minimum Duration (Hours) 30 34 37 38 42 47 52 57 63 69 73 75 81 88 101


TABLE 8.2 Signal Flags, Shapes, and Lights

White Red




Displayed by civilian divers in the United States. May be used with code flag alpha (flag A), but cannot be used in lieu of flag A. The Coast Guard recommends that the redand-white diver's flag be exhibited on a float marking the location of the divers.

"Divers are below. Boats should not operate within 100 feet." (Varies in accordance with individual state laws.)

Sport Diver Flag



Must be displayed by all vessels operating either in international waters or on the navigable waters of the United States that are unable to exhibit three shapes (see last row of this table). Flag A means that the maneuverability of the vessel is restricted.

"My maneuverability is restricted because I have a diver down; keep well clear at slow speed."

International Code Flag "A"
Yellow "I" Black Yellow "R" Red
Displayed by all vessels in international and foreign waters. "I am engaged in submarine survey work (underwater operations); keep clear of me and go slow."

International Code Flags "I and R" International Day Shapes and Lights
Shapes/Day Black Ball Black Diamond Black Ball Lights/Night Red White Red
Displayed by all vessels in international and foreign waters engaged in underwater operations. "This vessel is engaged in underwater operations and is unable to get out of the way of approaching vessels."

Dive Planning


Currents must be considered when planning and executing a dive, particularly when using scuba. When a boat is anchored in a current, a buoyed safety line at least 100 ft. (30.5 m) in length should be trailed from the stern during diving operations. If, on entering the water, a diver is swept away from the boat by the current, the diver can use this safety line to keep from being carried down current. Free-swimming descents should be avoided in currents, unless a means of retrieving the diver is available in case they miss their intended target. Descent from an anchored or fixed platform into water with currents should be made via a down line. A trail line also should be used unless a pickup boat is operating down current so that divers surfacing some distance from the entry point can be retrieved. A knowledge of changing tidal currents may allow the diver to drift down current and to return to the starting point on the return current. Tidal changes often alter the direction of current and sometimes carry sediment-laden water and cause low visibility within a matter of minutes. Tidal currents may prevent diving at some locations except during slack tides. Because a slack tide may be followed by strong currents, divers should know the tides in the diving area and their effects. Currents generally decrease in velocity with depth, and, therefore, it may be easier to swim close to the bottom when there are swift surface currents. Current direction may change with depth, however. When there are bottom currents, it is recommended, whenever possible, to start the swim into the current rather than with the current; this facilitates the return to the entry point at the end of the dive with the current. Divers should stay close to the bottom and use rocks (if present) to pull themselves along. Water temperature has a significant effect on the type of equipment selected and, in some cases, determines the practical duration of the dive. A thermocline is a boundary layer between waters of different temperatures. Although thermoclines do not pose a direct hazard, their presence may affect the selection of diving dress, dive duration, or equipment. Thermoclines occur at various depths, including levels close to the surface and in deep water. Temperature may vary from layer to layer. As much as a 20°F (11C) variation has been recorded between the mixed layer (epilimnion) above the thermocline and the deeper waters (hypolimnion) beneath it. Underwater visibility depends on time of day, locality, water conditions, season, bottom type, weather, and currents. Frequently, divers will be required to dive in water where visibility is minimal; sometimes, zero. Special precautions are needed. If scuba is used, a buddy line or other reference system, and float are recommended. A convenient way to attach a buddy line is to use a rubber loop that can be slipped on and off the wrist easily; this is preferable to tying a line that cannot be removed rapidly. The line should not slip off so easily, however, that it can be lost inadvertently. Heavy concentrations of plankton often accumulate at the thermocline, especially during the summer and offshore

of the mid-Atlantic states. Divers may find that plankton absorb most of the light at the thermocline and that even though the water below the thermocline is clear, a light is still necessary to see adequately. Thermoclines in clear water diffuse light within the area of greatest temperature change, causing a significant decrease in visibility. WARNING DIVERS SHOULD BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS AROUND UNDERWATER WRECKS OR OTHER STRUCTURES IN LOW VISIBILITY TO AVOID SWIMMING INADVERTENTLY INTO AN AREA WITH OVERHANGS. A well-developed sense of touch is extremely important when working in low or zero underwater visibility. The ability to use touch cues when handling tools or instruments in a strange work environment is valuable to a diver in the dark. Rehearsing work functions on the surface while blindfolded will increase proficiency at underwater tasks. Underwater, low-light-level, closed-circuit television has been used successfully when light levels are reduced, because a television camera “sees” more in these conditions than does the human eye. This is mainly true when the reduced visibility is caused by the absence of light; in cases where the problem is caused by high turbidity, a TV camera does not offer a significant advantage. When the purpose of the dive is inspection or observation and a closed-circuit television system is used, the diver serves essentially as a mobile underwater platform. The monitor is watched by surface support personnel who, in turn, direct diver movements. Underwater television cameras are available that are either hand held or mounted on the diver’s helmet. Often a diver will be required to dive in water that contains either waterborne or sediment-contained contaminants. The health hazards associated with polluted-water diving and the equipment to be used on such dives are described in Chapter 13.

8.4.1 Hand Signals Hand signals are used to convey basic information. There are various hand signalling systems presently in use. Divers in different parts of the country and the world use different signals or variations of signals to transmit the same message. A set of signals used by NOAA is shown in Figure 8.2 and Table 8.4. The signals consist of hand, instead of finger, motions so divers wearing mittens can also use them. To the extent possible, the signals were derived from those having similar meanings on land. Before the dive, the divemaster should review the signals shown with all of the divers. This review is particularly important when divers from different geographical areas constitute a dive team, or when divers from several organizations are


NOAA Diving Manual


Go Down/Going Down

Go Up/Going Up





Something is Wrong

Distress (Need Help)

Low on Air

Out of Air

LetÕs Buddy Breathe


FIGURE 8.2 Hand Signals

Dive Planning


Me, or watch me

Come here

Go that way

I am cold

Which direction?



Take it easy, slow down

Ears not clearing

Hold hands

Get with your buddy


You lead, IÕll follow

What time? What Depth?

I donÕt understand

FIGURE 8.2 Hand Signals (continued)


NOAA Diving Manual

cooperating in a dive. Signal systems other than hand signals have not been standardized. Whistle blasts, light flashes, cylinder taps, and hand squeezes generally are used for attracting attention and should be reserved for that purpose. 8.4.2 Surface-to-Diver Recall Signals Unexpected situations often arise that require divers to be called from the water. When voice communication is not available, the following methods should be considered: • Hammer–rapping four times on a steel hull or metal plate • Bell–held under water and struck four times • Hydrophone–underwater speaker or sound beacon • Strobe–used at night; flashed four times 8.4.3 Line Signals When using surface-supplied equipment, use line signals either as a backup to voice communications to the surface or as a primary form of communication. When using scuba, divers may use line signals in conditions of restricted visibility, for diver-to-diver communications or to communicate with the surface. Table 8.3 describes line signals commonly employed. NOTE Hand or line signals may vary by geographical area or among organizations. Divers should review signals before diving with new buddies or support personnel. 8.4.4 Surface Signals If a diver needs to attract attention after surfacing and is beyond voice range, the following signaling devices/methods may be used: • • • • • • Whistle (diver or scuba air powered) Flare Flashing strobe Flags Hand/arm signals Throw water into the air

TABLE 8.3 Line Pull Signals for Surface-to-Diver Communication

When considering air consumption rates, three terms need definition: • Respiratory Minute Volume ( RMV ) is the total volume of air moved in and out of the lungs in one minute. • Actual cubic feet (acf ) is the unit of measure that expresses actual gas volume in accordance with the General Gas Law. • Standard cubic feet (scf ) is the unit of measure expressing surface equivalent volume, under standard conditions,* for any given actual gas volume.

*Standard conditions for gases are defined as 32¡F
(0C), 1 ata pressure, and dry gas.

Dive Planning


Navy 1985). per minute (acfm or alpm.TABLE 8. hard bottom.5. palm down.76 scfm 8-12 NOAA Diving Manual . which is directly related to exertion level and which. thumb sticking out. the basic determinant is the respiratory minute volume. This estimate. Solution: Cd = RMV (Pa) RMV = 1. Signal is for long-range use This is the opposite of OK! The signal does not indicate an emergency Thumb and forefinger making a circle with three remaining fingers extended (if possible) Two arms extended overhead with fingertips touching above head to make a large ÒOÓ shape OK! or OK? Hand flat.4 Hand Signals Signal Hand raised. fingers pointed up. differs among divers (Cardone 1982). then hand rocking back and forth on axis of forearm Hand waving over head (may also thrash hand on water) Fist pounding on chest SOMETHING IS WRONG Indicated immediate aid required DISTRESS Indicates air supply is reduced to the quantity agreed upon in predive planning or air pressure is low and has activated reserve valve Indicates that signaler cannot breathe The regulator may be either in or out of the mouth LOW ON AIR Hand slashing or chopping throat Fingers pointing to mouth OUT OF AIR LETÕS BUDDY BREATHE DANGER Clenched fist.51 ata) = 2. These estimates of respiratory minute volumes apply to any depth and are expressed in terms of actual cubic feet. or liters.5) Pa 50/33 + 1 = 2.2 m) dive requiring moderate work.S. fingers together. Table 8.l acfm)(2. Physiological research has yielded useful estimates of respiratory minute volumes for typical underwater situations likely to be encountered by most divers (U. palm to receiver Thumb extended downward from clenched fist Thumb extended upward from clenched fist Meaning STOP Comment Transmitted in the same way as a Traffic PolicemanÕs STOP GO DOWN or GOING DOWN GO UP or GOING UP OK! or OK? Divers wearing mittens may not be able to extend three remaining fingers distinctly (see various drawings of signal) A diver with only one free arm may make this signal by extending that arm overhead with fingertips touching top of head to make the ÒOÓ shape. because of individual variation in physiological response. expressed in standard cubic feet per minute (scfm). maximum walking speed. See Table 8.6 shows these estimates. arms extended and forming a ÒXÓ in front of chest In computing air consumption rate. (15.51 ata Cd = (l. is given by the equation: Cd = RMV (Pa) where Cd = consumption rate at depth in scfm RMV = respiratory minute volume in acfm Pa = absolute pressure (ata) at dive depth Problem: Compute the air consumption rate for a 50 ft. respectively). The consumption rate at depth can be estimated by determining the appropriate respiratory minute volume for the anticipated exertion level and the absolute pressure of the anticipated dive depth.1 acfm (from Table 8.

WALKING SPEED.6 Air Consumption Table at Depth Surface DEPTH (FEET) 10 19 20 22 23 24 26 27 28 29 31 32 33 35 36 37 39 40 41 42 44 45 46 48 49 50 52 15 21 23 24 26 27 29 30 31 33 34 36 37 39 40 42 43 45 46 47 49 50 52 53 55 56 58 20 24 25 27 28 30 32 33 35 36 38 40 41 43 44 46 48 49 51 52 54 56 57 59 60 62 64 25 27 28 30 32 34 36 37 39 41 43 45 46 48 50 52 54 55 57 59 61 63 64 66 68 70 72 30 28 30 32 34 36 38 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 72 74 76 40 33 35 37 39 41 44 46 48 50 52 55 57 59 61 63 66 68 70 72 74 77 79 81 83 85 88 50 37 40 42 45 47 50 52 55 57 60 62 65 67 70 72 75 77 80 82 85 87 90 92 95 97 100 60 42 44 47 50 53 56 58 61 64 67 70 72 75 78 81 84 86 89 92 95 98 100 103 106 109 112 70 46 49 52 55 58 62 65 68 71 74 77 80 83 86 89 93 96 99 102 105 108 111 114 117 120 124 80 51 54 57 61 64 68 71 74 78 81 85 88 91 95 98 102 105 108 112 115 119 122 125 129 132 136 90 55 59 62 66 70 74 77 81 85 88 92 96 99 103 107 111 114 118 122 125 129 133 136 140 144 148 100 60 64 68 72 76 80 84 88 92 96 100 104 108 112 116 120 124 128 132 136 140 144 148 152 156 160 120 69 73 78 82 87 92 96 101 105 110 115 119 124 128 133 138 142 147 151 156 161 165 170 174 179 184 140 78 83 88 93 98 104 109 114 119 124 130 135 140 145 150 156 161 166 171 176 182 187 192 197 202 208 160 87 92 98 104 110 116 121 127 133 139 145 150 156 162 168 174 179 185 191 197 203 208 214 220 226 232 15 16 17 SURFACE AIR CONSUMPTION RATE (PSI PER MINUTE) 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Dive Planning 8-13 .2 1.TABLE 8. speed) MAX.2 1. 0. 0.9 TABLE 8. HARD BOTTOM U/W SWIMMING 1.42 0.71 0.85 knot (av. MUD BOTTOM U/W SWIMMING. 1.2 KNOTS 12 16 20 26 30 35 35 53 0.92 1. WALKING SPEED.5 Respiratory Minute Volume (RMV) at Different Work Rates Activity Respiratory Minute Volume Actual liters / min (STP) Actual cubic ft / min (STP) LIGHT WORK MODERATE WORK HEAVY WORK SEVERE WORK SLOW WALKING ON HARD BOTTOM UNDER WATER SWIMMING.0 KNOT MAX.1 1.5 KNOT (SLOW) SLOW WALKING ON MUD BOTTOM UNDER WATER SWIMMING.60 0.

317.85 cubic feet (2.7 psi/min (30 (depth) + 33)/33 (63/33) 1.2 Scuba Duration Knowing the probable duration of the scuba air supply is vital to proper dive planning. To determine the rate.1 m) in ten minutes.71 psi/min × 0. the cylinder contains a deliverable volume of 81. What is the diver’s SAC? The basic equation is: SAC = Solution: 30 30 = = = 15.3 liters) at one atmosphere.000 psig. the ratio of rated volume to rated pressure is a constant (k = Vr/Pr). It is important to understand that individuals vary somewhat from day to day in their air consumption rates.8. and the recommended minimum cylinder pressure.5.6).9 The diver would consume 15. The same information can be determined by multiplying the SAC figure times the depth of the planned dive in atmospheres absolute.5. and these calculations should thus be considered estimates only (Cardone 1982).050 at the end of the timed dive. Deliverable volumes at any gauge pressure for these two cylinder types 8-14 NOAA Diving Manual .350 psi at the start and 2. This technique allows divers to determine their Surface Air Consumption (SAC) rate which can be used to calculate estimated air consumption rate at any depth. Using the following formula. Mathematically. the duration of the available air supply is directly dependent on the consumption rate. At its rated pressure of 3. divide the number of usable psi in the cylinder (as shown on the submersible pressure gauge minus a reserve amount) by the psi per minute used at that depth.1 Determining Individual Air Utilization Rates An alternative approach that can be used expresses air utilization rates in terms of pressure drop in pounds per square inch (psi) rather than respiratory minute volume. read the submersible pressure gauges at the beginning and end of a dive to a constant depth. Keep in mind that usable cylinder pressure is defined as the beginning cylinder pressure minus recommended air reserve (see Table 8.016 liters) steel cylinder and an 80 ft 3 (2. showing that a total of 300 psi was consumed. The “standard 80 cubic foot” aluminum cylinder has an internal volume of 0.42 ft3/min 8. determine the diver’s surface air consumption (SAC) rate: ∆psi/time (min) psi per minute on the surface (SAC)= (depth in ft + 33)/33 3. To estimate how many minutes a cylinder of air will last at that depth. Problem: Convert SAC to cubic feet per minute (CFM) by multiplying the diver’s SAC times the cylinder constant (k) using formula: RMV = SAC × k Solution: The diver in this example had a SAC of 15. These readings give the information needed to use the simple four-step procedure shown below: 1. meaning that a constant volume of air is delivered for each unit of cylinder pressure drop. Knowing the consumption rate at the surface allows 300 (psi) ÷ 10 (mins) ∆psi/time (min) (depth in ft + 33)/33 the diver to use Table 8. 2. RMV= SAC × k RMV= 15.0267 ft3/psi RMV= 0.7 psi per minute at the surface.2 ft3 (2. For a given scuba cylinder. Subtract ending psi (as read from the submersible pressure gauge) from the beginning psi to determine the amount of air used during the timed dive (∆ psi).399 cubic feet (11.0267 ft3/psi. Problem: A diver swims a distance at 30 ft. Read across to the desired depth. Consumption rate depends on the depth and the exertion level of the dive.6 to find the rate at any depth.71 psi/min using a scuba cylinder with a k factor of 0.7 liters). (9. Figure 8. Find the psi per minute on the surface on the left side of the Air Consumption Table (Table 8. this results in a linear relationship between gauge pressure and deliverable volume.3 shows this relationship for a 71. the gauge pressure measured.266 liters) aluminum cylinder. the submersible pressure gauge reads 2.6) that is closest to the estimated psi per minute. With scuba. Scuba air supply duration can be estimated using the equation: Da = where Va Cd Da = duration in minutes Va = available volume in scf Cd = consumption at depth in scfm The available volume depends on the type (rated volume and rated pressure) and number of cylinders used. which will give the estimated air consumption rate at depth. 4.

400 psig .0266 scf/psig) = 2(1.6 acfm.400 psig for a 70 ft. (21. The available volume of air in the diver’s supply can be determined by the equation: Va = N(Pg . see Table 8.0266 scf/psig) = 95. For planning purposes. estimates of cylinder duration are based on available air volumes rather than deliverable air volumes.800 psig) (0.87 acfm TABLE 8. Problem: Estimate the duration of a set of twin 80 ft3 (2.3 Deliverable Volumes at Various Gauge Pressures Dive Planning 8-15 .can be read directly from Figure 8. The recommended minimum cylinder pressures for the two most commonly used scuba cylinder types are shown in Table 8. the available volume of air is the difference between the deliverable volume at a given cylinder pressure and the recommended minimum cylinder pressure.7 for the appropriate cylinder constant. or they can be individually computed using the equation: Vd = Pg x k where Vd = deliverable volume in scf Pg = gauge pressure in psig k = cylinder constant This equation can be used for any type of cylinder.Pm)k Va = 2(2.600 psig) (0.318 liters) aluminum cylinders charged to 2.3 m) dive for a diver with a RMV of 0.76 scf Step 2: Determine Cd using: Cd = RMV (Pa) where RMV = respiratory minute volume in acfm Pa = absolute pressure at dive depth Cd = 0.7 Cylinder Constants ( 70 + l ) 33 FIGURE 8.3. Solution: The basic equation for duration is: Da = where Va Cd Da = duration in minutes Va = available volume in scf Cd = consumption rate at depth in scfm Step 1: Determine Va using: Va = N(Pg .8.Pm)k where Va = available volume in scf N = number of cylinders Pg = gauge pressure in psig Pm = recommended minimum pressure in psig k = cylinder constant For planning purposes.6 acfm = 1.

81 ata 33 Cd = (0.7 21.600 psig) (0.7 8.8 Scuba Cylinder Pressure Data Steel 72 Aluminum 80 2475 3000 2250 3000 500 500 430 600 TABLE 8.3 15.1 m/min).3 * 58.1 * 29. any required stage decompression time. normal ascent time at 30 ft/min (9.318 l ) cylinder at five exertion levels for various depths.4 14.0 4.7 9.2 85. and consumption rate at depth.6 11.76 scf 1.2 minutes Table 8.6 9. Solution: Step 1: Determine tdt.59 scfm = 51.0 6. anticipated bottom time.9 Estimated Duration of 80 Ft3 Aluminum Cylinder ata 0 33 66 99 132 165 * 1.0 3. These estimated durations are computed on the basis of an available air volume of 64.8 30.000 psig .0 2.3 42.5.4 128.3 Scuba Air Requirements Total air requirements should be estimated when planning scuba operations.92 acfm Pa = 60 + 1 = 2. Total dive time is defined as the sum of the bottom time and normal ascent time at 30 ft/min (9.0 5.7 7.92 acfm) (2.1 m/min) is allowable.9 shows estimates of the duration of a single aluminum 80 ft3 (2.3 29.7 * 91.3 5.TABLE 8.92 acfm.9 18.4 14.5 64.7 * 42. 8.1 51.87 scfm where TAR = total air requirement in scf tdt = total dive time in minutes (bottom time plus ascent time at 30 ft/min) Cd = consumption rate at depth in scfm Problem 1: Estimate the total air requirements for a 30-minute dive to 60 ft.81 ata) = 2.0267 ft3/psig).6 45.1 ft3 (Va = 3.1 14.8 4. Factors that influence the total air requirement are depth of the dive.3 m) for a diver with a RMV of .5 7.1 m/min): tdt = 30 + 2 = 32 mins Step 2: Determine Cd using the equation: Cd = RMV (Pa) RMV = 0.8 Step 3: Solve the basic equation for Da: Da = Va Cd = 95.5 22. the total air requirement can be estimated using the equation: TAR = tdt (Cd) 8-16 NOAA Diving Manual . (18. For dives in which direct ascent to the surface at 30 ft/min (9.2 19.2 10.0 * 256.

1 m) and 30 minutes at 10 ft.73 ata) = 5. Also.5.3 m) to the surface. add the bottom time (BT) and the ascent time (AT) (to the nearest whole minute) at 30 ft/min (9.78 scfm) (7 mins) = 104. positioning an auxiliary cylinder at the decompression stop is considered a safer practice than relying on calculations of the available air supply. Problem 2: Estimate the total air requirement for an 80-minute dive to 60 ft.5 acfm)(l.8 ata) = 1. (18.10).Step 3: Determine TAR using the equation: TAR = tdt (Cd) = (32 mins) (2.0 scfm ( 10 +1 33 ) = 0. This dive requires decompression stops of seven minutes at 20 ft. (6. in actual cubic feet per minute is used (in all calculations) instead of RMV (see Table 8.30 ata) = 2.) Step 2: TAR = Cd (BT + AT) + Cd1 T1 = 5. rated volume/rated pressure = k.) where Cd1T1. in these cases. according to the USN Standard Air Decompression Table for a dive to 60 ft. ascent.4 m) dive for 70 minutes with a demand/free-flow helmet.3 m) for a diver with a RMV of 0.88 scf For dives in which stage decompression will be necessary.4 scf (7 mins) + 2. are the air consumption rates and times at the respective decompression stops. Va = N(Pg . task planning. For example.2 + 5. it will take two minutes to ascend from 60 ft.5 acfm)(1.4 Surface-Supplied Air Requirements Estimations of air supply requirements and duration of air supplies for surface-supplied divers are the same as those of scuba divers except when free-flow or free-flow/demand breathing systems are used. Cd1. Cd2T2. and decompression stops. BT + AT = 80 + 2 = 82 mins This dive requires a 10-ft. At an ascent rate of 30 ft/min.6 acfm. 8.68 scfm Step 2: Determine the total time for the dive. for 80 minutes. Problem: Estimate the air requirements for a 90 ft. The time required for decompression at 10 ft. (27. the total air requirement can be estimated using the equation: TAR = Cd (BT + AT) + Cd1T1 + Cd2T2 + Cd3T3 (etc.0 scf (30 mins) = 409 scf + 17 scf + 60 scf = 486 scf Cylinder constants for large high-pressure air/gas storage systems are determined in the same fashion as those for scuba cylinders. Solution: Step 1: Determine Cd and Cd1 using the equation: Cd = RMV (Pa) = (0. etc..6 Computation of these estimates during predive planning is useful to decide whether changes in assigned tasks.7 scf Dive Planning 8-17 . are necessary to ensure that the dive can be conducted with the available air supply.59 acfm) = 82.4 scfm (1.6 scfm (1. the minimum bank pressure must be calculated to be equal to 220 psig plus the absolute pressure of the dive (expressed in psia).6 acfm) (2. Solution: TAR = Cd (BT + AT) + Cd1T1 + Cd2T2 where TAR = Total Air Requirement Cd = Consumption rate at depth (scfm) BT = Bottom time (mins) AT = Ascent time Pa = Pressure in ata Step 1: Determine Cd. the flow. For the dive and ascent to the surface.61 ata) = 2.6 scf (70 + 3 mins) + 2. (3 m) is 7 minutes. i.5 acfm)(3. Cd1 = 0. Cd2: Cd = = Cd1 = Cd2 = flow x Pa (1. decompression stop.5 = 109.68 scfm) (62 mins) + (0.1 m/min). However.78 scfm (Assume same RMV on decompression stop.e. (3 m). The procedure for determining available volume of air is also the same as for scuba. (18.Pm) k Step 3: Determine TAR using the equation for this case: TAR = Cd (BT + AT) + Cd1T1 = (1.

7 = 275 psi TABLE 8.8 or 3 cylinders vol/cyl 172.1 Va = 172. Solution: Step 1: How much air could be delivered from each cylinder? Va = N( Pg .5 acfm 6. depending on the flow-valve set by the diver. Therefore. Step 2: How many cylinders would be required in the bank to supply the required amount of gas? vol. required 486 scf = = 2.400 psi + ( 9033 33) × 14. using a minimum reserve pressure of 220 psi. these values are minimum estimates. The diver and tender must continuously monitor the gas supply throughout the dive.000 .Pm)k k = 240 scf = 0.where Va = available volume (scf) N = number of cylinders Pg = gauge pressure (psig) Pm = minimum reserve pressure (psig) k = cylinder constant NOTE If cylinder banks are used as a back-up to a compressor supply.000 psi.1 scf/psi 2.5 scf/cyl N= Pm = 220 psi + Va = 1(2. Problem: Determine the number of high-pressure air cylinders required to supply the air for the above dive (486 scf ) if the rated volume equals 240 scf. rated pressure equals 2.10).5 scf/cylinder NOTE Calculations for gas supply requirements or scuba duration are for planning purposes only. the bank must be manifolded with the primary source so that an immediate switch from primary to secondary air is possible (see Figure 6. and beginning pressure equals 2.0 acfm NOTE: Significant variations in these values can occur.400 psi.10 Flow-Rate Requirements for Surface-Supplied Equipment Equipment Type Flow Rate Demand/freeflow Free flow 1. 8-18 NOAA Diving Manual .275) × 0.

Department of Commerce and Best Publishing Company.ntis.S. Visit our Web site at www. U.The NOAA Diving Manual was prepared jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Department of Commerce.S. U.gov. . This CD-ROM product is produced and distributed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS).

..........3 Airlift Sampling...............11...............6.9.............9......................2 9.......................1 9..4....5 Estimating Density of Planktonic Aggregations ..12 9.10..9-18 ARTIFICIAL REEFS/HABITATS ........11.2 Sampling ......9-16 9.........1...................................9......... 7 TAGGING AND MARKING TECHNIQUES .9-34 9..............4 Diving on Stationary Gear ............................2 9..............2 Site Documentation .....................................9................... 5 BIOLOGICAL SAMPLING.8...............2 Benthic Organism Sampling...13 9..2.........4 Partial and Full-Site Excavation .......13....5........1.........8..9-40 9.....9-16 9.........9-20 9.........2 In situ Sampling of Currents and Waves by Divers ...9-25 9...12......9-17 9....1 Nets .9-11 9. 3 UNDERWATER RECORDING METHODS ...9-17 9....9-33 9....2 Selecting an Anesthetic ...1 Estimating Population Densities .........9..8........2 Macro-Photogrammetric Method . 9 9..........12.......3 Water Samples.............9-37 ANIMAL CAPTURE TECHNIQUES ..9-45 .....9-31 9....5.1 9...........9-29 9.3 Trawls ......4 Undersea Laboratories ....9..............3 9....11................9-43 9.. 1 SITE LOCATION.......9....... 2 UNDERWATER SURVEYS .......11........Procedures for Scientific Dives SECTION PAGE SECTION 9 PAGE 9.1 Deployment............9-17 9.....................9-28 9......6 9.........9-39 THE USE OF ANESTHETICS IN CAPTURING AND HANDLING FISH............1 Plankton Sampling .... 8 BOTANICAL SAMPLING .......4 Experimentation .......11 9.8...9-39 9........8. 0 GENERAL .......3 Site Testing.......6 9.......10 9......................................5.........9-10 9........3 Application of Anesthetics .................9-32 9.9......10...... 6 SHELLFISH STUDIES .....1 Direct Survey Methods .....14.7 9..2 9....9..............1 Traditional Methods ...............14..........................3 Herbivory Assays ...................1 Site Location....2.5....14...........9-28 PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHY....9-31 9.........................9-11 9................2 Seines..............1 Underwater Photographic Survey ..............6 Collecting Techniques ......5.....................4 9.......14.........8 9..............9-17 9............3 9...9-29 9.........9-13 9...........................4 Diver-Operated Devices .................9-39 9...........2 Indirect Survey Methods ...............4 Palatability Experiments....9..5 9.......9-36 9...............13.....2...............................2 Underwater Acoustic Surveys .1 9.....................10.......8...1 Mapping .........9-12 9.....9.13.......... and Recovery of Instruments ........9-19 GEOLOGY....9-10 9...........................................................4 Midwater Sampling ....1 Collecting Techniques .. Inspection...9....9.........9-32 ARCHEOLOGY ..........3 Testing .......1 Field Procedures ........................14 9....2.........................9-40 9.9-39 9.5 Nutrient Enrichment Assays and Primary Productivity .9..........9-20 9..12...9................7 Specimen Preparation and Preservation....1 Response to Anesthetics ............9-39 9.8 9....2 Electronic Methods .....13.............10..............2........ Maintenance...9-40 9......12.9-17 9.... 4 BIOLOGICAL SURVEYS ..................8...2.

may be required. reliable instruments that can be set up rapidly. If the survey plan requires bottom traverses. in some instances. the instruments. The use of diving has led to significant discoveries in the marine sciences. The purpose of this section is to describe some of the procedures used in scientific diving projects. and a wellthought-out dive plan. or from the sea using bearings from a magnetic gyro compass. it may be necessary to use echosounder survey techniques to construct a bathymetric map of the bottom before starting the dive. Hand-held dive sonars or vessel fathometers are useful in determining water depth prior to initiating the dive.0 GENERAL Scientific diving has been widely performed since 1952 to observe underwater phenomena and to acquire scientific data. Loran C. in this method. and mechanics. In geological mapping of the seafloor. the only method that can be used to make valid observations and take accurate measurements. a much more detailed base map. a scale of 1 inch to 200 yards (2.5 cm to 183 m) is adequate for reconnaissance surveys. scientists take a number of sightings of various nearshore landmarks (such as trees. it is necessary to plot on a base map the precise location from which data will be obtained (Holmes and Mclntyre 1971). 9. 9 to be investigated.1 Traditional Methods Most scientific diving is carried out in nearshore waters where surface markers (fixed by divers over strategic points of the work site) may be surveyed from the shore using well-established land techniques. Regardless of the project or the role that diving plays. Efficiency under water requires good tools. At the other extreme in terms of complexity is a site relocation method used successfully by many scientists. If published topographic charts are inadequate. Scientific diving is occasionally also used to compliment submersible work. yet in many cases. marine research using diving as a tool has been important in understanding the ocean. and its dynamic processes. hills. Techniques used to search for underwater sites fall into two general categories: visual search techniques and electronic search techniques. (2. remote sensing. and power poles) and align them visually so that when the site is revisited in the future. Placing the trained scientific eye under water is. it will be necessary to provide some means of locating the position of the diver’s samples and observations on the base chart. with a scale of 1 inch to 30 ft. scientists who work under water must be proficient in their scientific discipline and as divers. The scale of the base map depends on the detail of the study and the size of the area 9-1 . In the scientific community there is a fair amount of standardization of the equipment and methods used to perform research under water. Divers must verify the results from the latter after the specific site has been located. or Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates. and techniques are improvised and advanced by individual scientists to meet the specific needs of the project. the landmarks 9. The scientific diver’s working time is measured in minutes and seconds instead of hours (unless the saturation diving mode is used). Gross features can be delineated and bottom time used more efficiently if the diver has a good bathymetric map of the study area. or surface ship surveys. without the use of artificial aids.1 SITE LOCATION To study any region carefully.5 cm to 9 m). tools. This is especially important if there is a need to return to the same location several times during a study. once the site is located and the boat anchored over it. Through necessity. the sounding plotted on original survey boat sheets of a region (made by NOAA’s National Ocean Service) can be contoured and will usually provide adequate bathymetric control for regional dive surveys. These methods are intended as guidelines and should not be construed as the best or only way to perform underwater surveys or to gather data. Basically.1.Procedures for Scientific Dives 9. The cost-effectiveness of scientific diving therefore depends on how efficiently scientists can perform their tasks. If existing charts do not contain the proper scale or sounding density. inventors. landmarks on shore are sighted visually. its organisms. In archeological and some biological studies.

One method that has worked well in areas of high relief where echosounders are not satisfactory is described below (Hubbard pers. usually can be seen if they protrude a short distance above the surrounding substrate. If exact calibration is a concern.1 Direct Survey Methods With the exception of long distance visual triangulation. the anchors should be constructed to rise slightly above the surrounding terrain so that they may be seen easily on the next visit.2 Electronic Methods Satellite positioning equipment can position a scientist within a few meters of the desired location. inexpensive. Along a convenient axis (North/South. FIGURE 9. Vertical control gives the relief of the region and may be obtained by stadia distance and vertical angles or by spirit leveling. These methods allow divers to establish the locations of major features in the working area accurately. Loran equipment. highly painted markers generally are cost effective. However. while indirect approaches use photography. optical instruments can and have been used to measure both distance (range finder) and angles between objects for triangulation. Woods and Lythgoe (1971) give an excellent description and review of methods that have been devised specifically for work under water. underwater sonars. the diver should record the position of selected features within the working area in relation to the buoy array.2. The first step in surveying any area is to establish a horizontal and vertical control network of accurately located stations (benchmarks) in the region to be mapped. 9. a steel tape is recommended. because biological fouling soon obscures any structure used. they should be diagrammed in a notebook that is kept in the boat. although considered less accurate. No matter what measuring method is used. East/West. the best plan is to wait for a calm day at slack tide. or acoustic means to determine distances. If this is contemplated. biology. 9. such a control provides a means of locating the detail that makes up the map. The only drawbacks to this method are that the work must be conducted near shore and the visibility must be good in order for the shoreside landmarks to be seen. Most ropes or lines will stretch and should be used only if the measurement error resulting from their use is acceptable. They are ideal for most purposes and require no maintenance except for a freshwater rinse and lubrication of the metal crank. A review of a standard college text on surveying will provide the scientist with some basic surveying concepts.9. Comparing differences in depth using a diver’s depth gauge or dive computer can make rough measurements.2 UNDERWATER SURVEYS A variety of methods are used to survey the underwater landscape. or other system of markers is established and fixed relative to permanent features on the shore. In some cases it may be advisable to leave the seabed anchors in place after the floats have been cut away. In most diving surveys. or geology) is to be constructed. the lines or tapes must be kept on reels to prevent tangling or fouling. grid.1 Fiberglass Measuring Tape line up the same way. angles. com. especially if long distances are involved. Once the transect. etc. Direct methods require scientific divers to measure distances themselves. many of the methods used in land surveying can also be used under water. these include direct and indirect surveying methods. particular care is needed to ensure that the surface floats used during the initial survey be directly over the weights anchoring them to the selected underwater features. can provide a general back-up.): 1. Floating markers. place two permanent poles.1. GPS is readily available on most research vessels and low-cost handheld models exist for use in small boats.). but measurements may be inaccurate if the irregular sea surface is used as the reference point.1). Small floats made of syntactic foam may be tied to the anchors below the surface with a short length of polypropylene line to aid in relocation. When several lineups have been established and proven. Stretch a line between them to serve as a fixed centerline. even if they are small and badly fouled. A fiberglass or vinyl measuring tape that has a minimum of stretch and is marked in feet and inches on one side and meters and centimeters on the other is commercially available (see Figure 9. Recognize that surface buoys may disappear at any time or may be repositioned over time. In clear waters. Horizontal control is the framework on which a map of features (topography. These tapes come in an open plastic frame with a large metal crank to wind the tape back onto the reel. one on either end of the survey area. 9-2 NOAA Diving Manual . distances are measured with a calibrated line or tape (the use of an expensive steel tape is unnecessary). If buoys are used for location. and other features.

4. Recent computerization of photogrammetric plotting equipment has reduced technical difficulties considerably. The former method is preferable if longterm observations are to be carried out in an area. Lay out the lines perpendicular to the centerline by using the centerline poles as tie-in points. protractors. = z2 . At intervals prescribed by the size of the area and the irregularity of the terrain. as shown in Figure 9. If a permanent grid is desired. The latter technique is preferable if reconnaissance studies are being made in remote regions or in areas that will not require the re-establishment of stations.y2 When using a depth gauge or dive computer over a period of hours. 3. Determining the two end points of the centerline by the methods described in Section 9. The possibility of poor visibility is a drawback in its application. In areas of significant terrain. However. 9. around a permanently established habitat. this is a tool being used with increasing frequency.2 Indirect Survey Methods Indirect underwater surveying involves techniques that do not require the diver physically to measure angles and distances using tapes. 1968. the horizontal distance (x) can be calculated easily using the formula: X either direction from each of the centerline poles. A photograph is.2. little true photogrammetry was conducted because of the technical difficulties in producing corrected lenses and maintaining altitude and constant depth and because of the high relative relief of many bottom features.1 locates the site with respect to surface positions.2. By going in FIGURE 9. photographic towers may be used (Bass 1964.2. Indirect underwater surveying currently is performed using either photographic or acoustic methods. lines. improved techniques have been developed that allow increased accuracy and flexibility. for example. The tower ensures that each photo is taken from the same point of view. it is difficult to maintain an accurate horizontal measurement. the control and the detail are located at the same time. a perspective view that requires correction for the difference in scale and position of objects.1 Underwater Photographic Survey Reliable measurements can be obtained by means of photogrammetry. The detail to appear on the finished map is located by moving from the control networks (benchmarks) to the features to appear on the finished map. The use of a tautline buoy may make the sites more visible. Knowing the difference in depth (y) between the two points (from calibrated depth gauges or dive computers) and the measured slope distance (z). the control is located first and the detail is located in a separate operation after the control survey has been completed.2. Though not as advanced under water as on land. place poles at intervals comparable to those between the centerline poles. horizontal changes can be measured by moving away from each centerline pole. If the terrain has significant relief. place additional poles identified by some sort of coding. Photographic transects are useful in showing variations over an area or changes that occur with depth. To improve mapping for detailed archeological studies. a complete bathymetric survey can be conducted with considerable accuracy. tidal fluctuations must be taken into account. 9. On other surveys. thus simplifying follow-on dark room procedures. The progress of excavation in each area can be recorded with grid photographs taken through a hole in the top of the tower. This approach produces a consistent series of photos that can be compared easily when analyzing the data. and readings should be taken at the reference during the period over which depths are being measured in the survey area.2 Bottom Survey in High-Relief Terrain Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-3 . Photographs with appropriate scales in the field of view can be useful in measuring objects on the seafloor and in recording changes with time. In the past. however.1. Ryan and Bass 1962). On some surveys. etc. Subtle changes often recorded on sequentially obtained exposures of the same area or station can be missed if memory alone is relied on. A reference staff or benchmark should be established at the beginning of the survey.2.

such as the motion of sand waves. Acoustic Grid This method of underwater survey is the acoustic equivalent of direct trilateration.) recommends that rigid metal grids be constructed and divided into 6. the data are sent to the surface via an underwater communications link. The pingers can be purchased with specific frequencies to differentiate between sites. The accuracy of this system can be increased significantly by using four or five transponders. Compact sound velocimeters are now available that permit in situ measurements to be used immediately as survey system correctors. Digital photography is a significant time-saving technology that allows images to be downloaded and analyzed by computer. Because so many variables affect the velocity of sound in seawater. A diver places a transponder on the object whose position is to be determined. system inaccuracy may still be created by variability in speed of sound. Three receiving elements are located precisely with respect to each other on the underside of the support craft. which determines the position of an object relative to a fixed network of transponders. Although more convenient to use. the acoustic grid is an appropriate method.2. Phase Measurement Unlike the acoustic grid method. and an interrogator located on the ship queries the transponder. More complex and costly systems can be used to avoid some of the problems that arise with these simpler methods.3 High-Frequency Sonic Profiler sound velocity measurements in very shallow water can be affected seriously by errors in recording temperature.3) can rapidly measure underwater sites (Dingler et al.2.A series of stereophoto-pair photographs may be taken of sites for three-dimensional viewing under a stereo-viewer. For example. These devices are particularly useful if there is a need to return to specific locations. phase measurement systems are contained within the support ship except for a single mobile transponder. Ideally. however. permits detailed photographs to be taken that cover large areas from short distances. the delay in time can be related to the distance between the interrogator and each of the transponders.6 ft. Another advantage of this system is its internal completeness. errors in measurement can have a significant effect on the resulting mathematical analysis. 1977).2 Underwater Acoustic Surveys Another method for conducting bottom surveys involves the use of sonic location beacons (pingers). In its simplest form. If cost is not a factor. The acoustic grid is particularly valuable when a site is visited repeatedly to measure features that vary over time. If the velocity of sound in seawater is known for that area and time. which is displayed as deflection angle and 9-4 NOAA Diving Manual . The system may consist of small (the size of a roll of quarters) pingers. A phase analysis is performed by the receiver on the return signal. aims visually at the first transponder and takes three readings. hand-held directional sonar device that has a digital readout of the time delay. In the absence of this equipment. Such a device. The process is repeated for the other two transponders. and the time delay before each response occurs is measured and recorded. three acoustic transponders are placed at known positions on the sea bottom. the data should be recorded on a writing slate attached directly to the interrogator. These transponders are interrogated sequentially from within their established grid. The use of wide-angle lenses. and many of these read out range directly. These squares are then excavated and photographed individually. More sophisticated versions of the acoustic grid survey system are available. the sonic profiling method is by far the best way of obtaining an accurate representation of small-scale subaqueous bed forms. It is also possible to relate the grid measurements to a geodetic map at a later time. it is possible to make three-dimensional measurements from such photos. FIGURE 9. that can be placed at the site of interest. The interrogator is a small. (2 m) squares. requires electronic and technical support beyond the means of most researchers. Accurate results depend on keeping the salinity and temperature measurement errors small enough so that the errors in velocity are below the inherent equipment-introduced errors. they are usually attached to a mast extended over the side of the craft. More important. A high-frequency sonic profiler (see Figure 9. The diver. Bass (pers. Transponders are implanted and their positions are determined using direct underwater survey methods. positioned above the point to be surveyed. such as a 15 mm lens. and a diver-held receiver. 9. com. If the geodetic location of the site is not important and only relative position and motion within the site are to be measured.

In this case the position of the diver relative to the support ship must be monitored continuously. the notes should be transcribed as soon as possible. When continuous communication is available. This position diminishes breathing noise and increases voice fidelity by picking up sounds from the resonating chamber formed by the mask rather than from the high-sibilant area in front of the lips. which must be determined by the method discussed previously. or inclinometers (see Figure 9. Small transponders are available that can be strapped to a scuba cylinder so that the position of the diver can be monitored continuously by personnel in the support craft.4 Multipurpose Slate A simple and inexpensive technique for underwater data sheets is to prepare the sheets on regular typing paper and then have each sheet laminated in the same way that drivers’ licenses and other important identification are preserved. which increases both ease of operation and accuracy. its inherent mobility and flexibility are distinct advantages except in situations where job requirements make the acoustic grid or one of the direct methods preferable. Under certain conditions. NOTE The critical factor in a voice-recording system for data gathering is the ability of the diver to speak and enunciate clearly enough to be understood and transcribed accurately. Standard recording formats can be duplicated ahead of time to facilitate recording during a dive.4). the measurements should be repeated. drawings are then made with wax crayons on waterproof paper attached to the plastic board by screws or rubber bands. Slates can be made multipurpose by adding compasses. since the metal parts will soon corrode. Although the system has the disadvantage of requiring a surface-support platform. The most satisfactory and reliable system includes a cassette tape recorder as part of the hardwire two-way communication system used in umbilical diving. This system is suited to applications where a large area must be surveyed or where there are only one or two sites of interest. Because there is a risk of misinterpreting the often erratic notes made under water. equipped with a microphone that is located away from the immediate mouth area. If there is disagreement. The position of the microphone and the way in which it is waterproofed is critical in determining the usefulness of an underwater tape recorder.3 UNDERWATER RECORDING METHODS The simplest and most widely used method for recording data under water involves using a graphite pencil on a white. The only variable is velocity of sound. These lists and tables may be inscribed on the plastic pads. including a fluorescent orange paper. the alternative is a self-contained unit carried by a diver in the scuba mode. Low-cost commercial systems feature a special mouthpiece unit into which a microphone is built-in and to which the scuba regulator is attached. but wax smears and often must be removed with a solvent. double-sided plastic board. the diver can be directed through a geodetically fixed survey pattern if the ship’s position is known accurately. Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-5 . Coupled with this is a transponder and bone-phone (transmission of sounds through the bones in the skull). and pencil holders have metal parts that will corrode. Mechanical pencils are also not recommended. Wax pencils are usually not advisable because they become brittle and break in cold water. method of documenting data under water. These systems allow diverto-diver and diver-to-surface communications. Combining the phase measurement system with a good diver-to-surface communication system results in an excellent survey procedure. readily available plastic pencil that uses bits of sharpened lead encased in plastic butts. The best equipment configuration is a full-face mask. In some cases. The best writing instrument is an off-the-shelf. Tape recording is another useful. There are several types of underwater paper. for instance). rulers. These records are sufficiently permanent to withstand normal handling during a dive. a list of tasks to be undertaken and the form to be used for all measurements should be developed before the dive. although somewhat specialized. FIGURE 9.line-of-sight range to the object with respect to the receiver element mast. Several commercially available masks are equipped with 9. the phase measurement system can be more fully utilized if diver-towing techniques are employed. Since most divers use abbreviations and shorthand in recording observations and species names. it is good practice for two observers to take independent measurements and to check them with each other for agreement before returning to the surface. Ordinary pencil lead can be cleaned off easily with scouring powder. it is desirable to retain the original records (this is particularly important in the case of archeological drawings. Where precise measurements are to be made.

5 ). Baseline studies must be designed so that they can be monitored at prescribed intervals. to the extent that the surfaces sampled depart from the horizontal. 9. a 7. Cassette tapes of 120 minutes of recording time are generally sufficient for most scuba missions. (2. Maintenance is especially important for tape recorders in a salt-wet environment. divers should practice using the system in shallow water until they can produce intelligible transcriptions routinely. Variations in the intensity and spectral composition of light under water also have a significant effect on plant communities. water clarity and the complexity of the biota will affect the size of the study circle. take quantitative samples of life forms. Most underwater investigators have used transect or simple quadrant methods for the analysis of benthic communities.1 m) line is generally used to produce a 323 ft2 (30 m2) area of study. some specific aspects should be mentioned. taking photographs. Control stations placed outside the area being studied are necessary to provide data on environmental changes occurring naturally (e.. photographic light meters are not satisfactory for this purpose. In rocky areas. A simple method for estimating populations of sessile organisms is described by Salsman and Tolbert (1965). When baseline information cannot be obtained before the natural undersea environment has been altered by human actions.2 m) line can be used to define the radius of the circle of study. dissolved oxygen and nutrient content. Underwater spectroradiometers are probably the most effective means of measuring light in the sea and have been used in studies of photosynthesis and calcification rates of corals. Briefly.g. To optimize topside recording fidelity and minimize distortion and interference. the more restricted the amount of bottom that can be surveyed. sand and rubble zones. seasonal effects). type and slope of substrata. To facilitate counting and to 9-6 NOAA Diving Manual . which will cause density to be overstated. 9. Quantitative observations are then made within the circle. area will be underestimated. and patch reefs.1 Estimating Population Densities When estimating the biological content or density of a given region. Environmental factors that must be considered when surveying the establishment and growth of underwater communities include exposure to wave or swell action. however. At each location sampled. it is not possible to evaluate the impact of man-made changes without performing special baseline surveys designed to obtain specific information about the biota and the physical environment. the technique consists of making some simple height. special care must be taken at sea (checking O-rings. Biological surveys are used for many purposes. scientists can estimate the number of plants and animals. The techniques of underwater biological surveying involve establishing a standardized methodology to make the results of the survey quantitatively meaningful and ecologically acceptable.2. but it is often difficult to obtain accurate light measurements. (3. where the biota is more diverse. A reasonable description of the change in biota relative to depth and other factors can be obtained by measuring the area of cover along a strip or band transect. An irregular surface can greatly increase the area. and extent of grazing. To be meaningful. the authors spent 10 – 15 minutes making observations.4 BIOLOGICAL SURVEYS Biological surveys generally have the same requirements and involve the same techniques as those described in Section 9. it is necessary to take surface area into account. This bias becomes particularly important as the scale of the surface variation approaches the scale of the distribution being measured. thalassa. most diver-tender communications systems can be wired to accept a tape recorder so that both diver and topside conversations can be recorded. cassette tapes of the highest quality should be used. and surface length measurements and then applying a surface index formula to determine the surface area. water temperature. reef crests. biological surveys can be used to determine the incremental impacts of subsequent activities. In most marine environments. The technique has been applied to coral reefs. Macrophotography and close-up digital video imaging are also viable tools for this purpose. The amount of bottom area covered does not need to be the same for every station. The illumination at or within a given plant community can be obtained with accuracy only by actual in situ light measurements. In West Coast regions and for sand stations having a limited macrobiota. seals) to prevent corrosion.demand regulators that can be used with standard scuba cylinders or with an umbilical supply. In addition. and sampling population density. benthic algal substrata. When an umbilical is used. Regardless of the unit selected. these studies must be made before structures are emplaced on the seafloor or material is discharged into the area. using tools such as plankton nets and bottom cores. and take photographs of general bottom conditions and of each quadrat. The poorer the visibility.2 ft.2 ft. frequency.4. a 10. This is done by choosing stations at specific depth intervals along a transect line and dropping an anchor at each station to serve as the center of a circle of study. who used it to survey and collect sand dollars (see Figure 9. Accurate quantitative data on standing crops can best be obtained by collecting the entire ground cover from a quadrat and sorting this into component species in the laboratory for subsequent analysis. including determining the environmental impact of placing man-made objects on the seafloor and assessing the effects of ocean dumping on marine resources. Dahl (1973) describes a technique designed to quantify the estimation of irregular surfaces in the marine environment. general bottom topography and biological features of the areas beyond the circles are also noted.

Inexpensive counting squares also can be constructed using PVC tubing. a counting cell was constructed by bending an aluminum rod into a square 11. 9. It is a three-element lens system designed specifically for use under water and consists of three lenses with appropriate spacers inserted into a 2-inch (5-cm) plastic pipe (see Figure 9. a roller of rigid PVC tubing into which stainless steel wire “staples” are fixed..5 BIOLOGICAL SAMPLING Although a discussion of research design for a sampling program is outside the scope of this manual. The same method can be used to take a random sample of any sessile organism. It should be cleaned and rinsed carefully. vinegar. A device used for surveying epifauna is the diveroperated fishrake (see Figure 9. careful attention should be given to the implementation of sampling methods. it is necessary to remain a reasonable distance from the subject so as not to interfere with normal behavior. An underwater telephoto camera lens was used during the Tektite II experiments to avoid interfering with animal behavior (VanDerwalker and Littlehales 1971). With the less Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-7 .8 inches (30 cm) long on each side. along with other diving equipment. As Fager and his colleagues have noted. When in use. has a magnification power of seven and permits the diver to study marine organisms too small to be comfortably observed with the naked eye. 1966). Chapters on the design of sampling programs can be found in Holmes and Macintyre (1971) and planning of experiments in Cox (1958). The organisms within this square were counted and collected for later size determination. In some cases.6 Diver-Operated Fishrake At the other end of the magnification continuum is an underwater magnifying system (Pratt 1976). and an odometer made of a plastic tracking wheel and removable direct-drive revolution counter. such as with small demersal fish. underwater sampling is considerably more effective than from the surface. allowing it to fall to the bottom. Video cameras on tripods allow the scientific diver to back away from animals that are difficult to approach (i.5 Counting Square for Determining Sand Dollar Density FIGURE 9. It has been used to obtain information on the small-scale distribution patterns and estimates of population densities of demersal fishes and invertebrates.e. As the divers approached the seafloor. this procedure was then repeated at least two more times at each location sampled.7). and other observations on animals that occur within the path traversed by the roller. size estimates. ensure a random sample. This device. and to improve the design or procedure in situ. or fungus deposits may be removed by an overnight soak in either diluted bleach. underwater operations have several advantages over sampling from the surface for ecological studies involving quantitative sampling or observations of behavior (Fager et al. or laundry detergent. The apparatus consists of a metal tubular frame fitted with a handle. Direct observation gives one a feeling for the types and magnitudes of the errors associated with the sampling and allows one to decide whether the sampling site is unusual or representative of a larger area.6). they released the square.FIGURE 9. Soap. the Macrosnooper is held against the mask faceplate. garden eel beds). In some underwater situations involving observations of animal behavior. Holes are then drilled through the housing and the spacers to permit the entry of water for equalization at depth. mineral. referred to as the Pratt Macrosnooper. Probably the most important practical advantage is the ability to observe the sampling apparatus in operation. Emery (1968) developed an underwater telescope for such situations by housing a rifle scope in PVC tubing with acrylic plastic ends. after each use. to make estimates of its effectiveness. It is pushed along the bottom by a diver who makes visual counts. The underwater scope described by this author functioned satisfactorily at depths as great as 180 ft. Closed-circuit underwater breathing apparatus (rebreathers) can also be used for almost bubble-free behavioral observations. (55 m).

Ennis (1972) has employed a method using two diver propulsion vehicles to which a 19. are used to collect plankton selectively in reef areas. This method involves preassembling a large. and labeled. To study details of the distribution pattern of individuals of sedentary species.5m) (see Figure 9. Hand-operated butterfly valves are used to isolate the collection bottles located in the cod end of the net. and plastic wrap should be placed over the top of the jar to trap a small bubble of air.8 cm) radius. (1 m) long Hensen egg nets were mounted on a single diver propulsion vehicle that was operated at a speed of about 2 – 3 knots (1 – 1.8 Hensen Egg Nets Mounted on Propulsion Vehicle FIGURE 9. Complete System FIGURE 9. and the contents of the net should be poured into a glass jar. the jar is capped.08–0.8). except for a small volume at the top.2 Benthic Organism Sampling Quantitative sampling of the epifauna can be accomplished by counting the animals within a randomly located circle or square quadrat. with the center rod and movable arm marked with grooves at 0. Air-filled bottles also can be inverted in appropriate areas to suck up plankton and water samples. The position of an animal within the circle can be defined by three numbers: the distance along the center rod from a standard end.8 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The cod end should then be removed. Several methods of sampling plankton have been developed.5. A circle template. A syringe filled with formalin is then pushed through the plastic wrap.7 inches (50 cm) plankton net was attached. and so on. immediately secured. 9.4 inch (1 cm) intervals (see Figure 9. and the effects of these experimental manipulations can be followed in detail. when two 3. In addition. (1 m) of the bottom can be sampled with a skid-mounted multilevel net apparatus that is pushed by a diver over a predetermined distance. each net should be washed separately and the sample should be concentrated into the cod end by holding the net up inside a trapped bubble of air under a plastic hemisphere having an 18 inches (45.2 ft. The jar should be filled. 9. stakes. lightweight metal or PVC square 9-8 NOAA Diving Manual . The work area should be deeper than the hemisphere so that hydrostatic pressure will help to keep the air bubble from escaping. the distance from the center rod along the movable arm.12 inch (2–3 mm). by alteration of substrata. changes in both environment and the biota can be followed for considerable periods.A.7 Underwater Magnification System common species. with filtered seawater. Plankton sampling nets 11. and movable arm may be constructed of brass. At the end of every run. A similar method was used during a saturation dive in the Hydrolab habitat at Grand Bahama Island. it should be turned inside out and backflushed. with a mesh size of 0. Because a diver using marker buoys. the “distance of the nearest neighbor” technique can be used. changes can be imposed on the environment by selective removal of species.9). Before a net is reused. it may be particularly important to be able to make repeated population estimates without imposing unnatural mortality by the removal of individuals. or pingers can return repeatedly to the same location.5. Optical System B. The jar is then removed from the hemisphere and carried to a work area. fixed center rod.1 Plankton Sampling Planktonic organisms that live within 3. and the half of the circle within which the animal was observed. there is no sample loss.2 ft. When this procedure is carried out properly.

9 Circle Template and dropping it at the appropriate location. is a thin-walled coring tube of transparent plastic. and depth lines can be marked on the outside of the tube. The corer consists of a square brass box fitted with a funnel adapter at the top to accept widemouth sample containers. For ease of handling.g. To remove the core. (1/64 m2) sample to a depth of 9. Its rugged construction allows scientists to forcibly penetrate hard substrates.9 to 4. especially good for small infauna and meiofauna. e. tipped slightly.8 inches (30 cm) long and sealed with rubber corks. The apparatus is inverted and the sediment is allowed to settle into the jar. the scientist’s thumb should be held over the hole to create a suction that keeps the sediment from falling out. A multilevel corer is used for studying the depth distribution of infauna.1 inches (23 cm).FIGURE 9. After the corer is pushed into the substrate to the desired depth. With both corks off. distances to nearest neighbors are measured.17 square ft. one side of the device is excavated and the device is tilted over. After the positions of all individuals have been marked. and reflexives are counted. can obtain a 0.10). This corer samples an area of about one inch square (2. the tube should be at least 11. the plug may be FIGURE 9. divers place short brass or plastic rods with fabric flags on them at predetermined positions in relation to the individuals of the species being examined.. 2 inches (5 cm). such as sand or vegetated bottoms. and an aluminum plate is slipped under it through the sand. into the sand. The sampler. Another coring device for obtaining quantitative samples of the infauna is a square stainless steel box with handles and a screen covering one end (see Figure 9. the coring attachment is removed and the jar is capped.4 inches (6 cm). Samples of the substrate and infauna can be collected with no loss of sediment or organisms by using a simple coring device with a widemouth sample container (a jar) attached to the top (see Figure 9. as well as softer sediments.10 Coring Device with Widemouth Container pushed out the end and cut into desired lengths or quickfrozen in dry ice immediately upon surfacing (to prevent migration of animals) and later cut with a hacksaw. Most organisms obtained by this type of device will be found in the top 3. the diameter of which is based on a predetermined sample designed to gather the desired substrate and organisms most efficiently. the tube should be rotated carefully into the sand to the desired depth. after Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-9 .7 inches (10 to 12 cm) of the sample. the bottom cork should be inserted. the scientist places a finger over the hole in the top cork. The front side of the corer is slotted to permit thin metal slide plates to be inserted to separate the sample into five separate layers. which can then be transferred under water to separate sample containers. and the cork with the small hole should then be used to cap the tube. Another simple soft-bottom sampling device. Samples accurate to any depth can be taken with this device. Once all sediment and organisms are inside the jar. To remove discrete segments of the core. While gripping the tube for removal. Within the square.54 cm2) to a depth of 2. one of which has a small hole drilled through it. currently in use by NOAA/NMFS divers.11). and allows the plug to fall out. When the tube is free of the sediment. The corer is pushed a given distance. removes the bottom cork.

The disks are wired to a galvanized pipe frame placed on the bottom by divers.5. steel. substrate material to be tested.10. the epifaunal assemblages that are collected by this method are more typical of those found on natural substrates. A red dye (usually Rose Bengal) is added to the preservative to facilitate the sorting and identification process. A multiple disk sampling apparatus for collecting epibenthic organisms has been developed by NOAA/NMFS divers. knowing the composition of the rock is important in determining whether organisms can bore into it or merely attach to it. Similarly. animals in midwater 9-10 NOAA Diving Manual . and the samples can be screened through the bag in the process. 9. However. determinations of grain size. The experiment design (collecting frequency. In soft bottoms.” 9.6 cm) in diameter with a surface area of 0. so that they can then be emptied into a mesh bag of a certain size. Wiring disks rather than bolting them simplifies the operation and eliminates the problem of corroded fastenings. and the rock’s composition will also determine its resistance to erosion over long periods. chemical composition. Each collecting unit consists of a disk 9.11). Some knowledge of geological techniques is helpful when sampling. the diver holds the open end of the corer against his body while ascending. Various kinds of material have been used in the construction of the disks (wood. especially to collect the small organisms that tend to escape when attempts are made to “scrape and grab.5. This procedure minimizes the loss of motile organisms. When used with a diverheld scraping device. Individual bags containing the disks are filled with a narcotic solution (7. For example. Individual disks are removed at intervals by divers who place a canvas collecting bag over the disk and cut the wire holding the disk to the frame. on rocky substrates it is important to know how to measure angles of inclines on overhangs or shelves.7 inches (24.11 Infauna Sampling Box which the corer and sample are pulled free. only a portion of each disk is examined and enumerated. an airlift is also useful on hard substrates. To prevent any sample loss. and it may be helpful to consult geologists for recommendations on where to obtain the appropriate geological data. washed free of most of the sediments. because this angle influences the orientation of many organisms (see Section 9. The airlift carries sediment and organisms to the top of the pipe in a stream of air and water.5 percent magnesium chloride mixed 1:1 with seawater) for one hour and the disks are then preserved in a ten percent formalin solution.FIGURE 9.54 square ft. Situations vary. and other physical characteristics are best done by scientists equipped to handle these tasks.4 Midwater Sampling Although plastic bags have been used successfully to sample swarming copepods and small aspirators have been used to sample the protozoan Noctiluca.3 Airlift Sampling An airlift is a sampling device that consists of a long plastic pipe equipped with a device to supply air at the lower end. and the residue containing the organisms is placed in jars of preservative. rubber. (1/20 m2). cement). or other epifaunal survey requirements) dictates the number of disks to be used.1). Large areas of soft bottom can be collected in a very short time with this device. it is useful to describe sediment grain size and bottom configurations. The contents are then placed in a sieve of appropriate mesh size (see Figure 9. Because of the large size of disks. glass. Rubber and cement generally are superior substrates for most sessile invertebrates.

7 inches (30 – 40 cm) from the camera. extensive studies have been done in Florida and California on the spiny lobster (Panulirus) (Herrnkind and Engle 1977. oysters. by permitting the animals to swim into a hand-held container. In general. less motile zooplankton that range from several millimeters to a few centimeters in size. Comparative studies of lobsters in the laboratory-aquarium environment have shown that their behavior is altered significantly when they are in captivity. whereas spheres do not. ctenophores.000. Replicated measurements permit the application of most normal statistical procedures used in quantitative ecology. Historically. The diver can easily capture larger. because even monofilament bridles cause zooplankton to avoid nets. Density of organisms such as copepods within swarms is determined by counting all of the animals in focus in the photograph. density can be estimated by measuring the distance from one individual to its closest in-focus neighbor for each of some 20 individuals within a single plane. crabs. i.12). Although small. more underwater studies have been conducted on the American lobster of the New England coast (Homarus) than on any other single species of shellfish. nets.12 Using a Container to Collect Zooplankton must generally be collected using other techniques. etc. This is the preferred method of data collection for all aspects of laboratory marine research.. lobsters less than one-half pound (0. Depth of field varies systematically with f-stop (see Chapter 5).8 – 15. Nonetheless. they are deployed most effectively by divers swimming the nets by hand or by guiding diver-propulsion units to which the nets are attached (see Figure 9. snails. Density measurements for animals sparsely distributed can be obtained more easily by swimming line transects between tethered buoys while counting the number of animals that pass through a grid of selected size (see Figure 9. Direct in situ observation of lobsters is the most effective way to study lobster ecology and behavior. Divers also may drift slowly on a tether with the ship and estimate densities by measuring the drift rate and counting the number of organisms that pass through a grid in a specified time. and the potential effects of conventional sampling techniques on the bottom environment and its fauna. and chaetognaths. without disturbing them. 9. In addition.13).6 SHELLFISH STUDIES The use of diving as a research tool to study lobsters.. Some tests are of questionable validity because many statistics depend on presupposed patterns of normal distributions.5 Estimating Density of Planktonic Aggregations For many kinds of organisms.5. their behavior in relation to sampling gear.8). such as the gelatinous medusae.area of field times depth of field.e. scallops.000 cm3/0. patterns that may not apply to three-dimensional arrays. FIGURE 9. No objects should obstruct the mouth of the net. preferably of clear plastic or glass (see Figure 9. The use of an 80 mm lens and extension tubes provides a small measured field of view of 11. density and distribution can be determined photographically without disturbing the aggregation. When the number of organisms in focus is large. the efficiency of sampling gear.22 kg) in size generally are not Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-11 . and other types of shellfish has increased as a result of both the commercial importance of these living resources and the difficulty of sampling these organisms effectively with conventional surface-oriented equipment. pteropods. Biological oceanographers now use these new techniques frequently. In addition.589 × (average nearest neighbor’s distance in cm)3 = Number of organisms per meter3 is preferred because isohedrons pack symmetrically along all three axis. because it is the way to collect these delicate animals without the damage that normally occurs even with the most carefully handled net. bivalves. within a known volume determined by 9. These distances are averaged and the density of the aggregation is estimated by entering this average into the formula for dose packing of spheres or of isohedronie arrays. If nets must be used. many of the sampling procedures used by the terrestrial ecologist may be applied to underwater sampling. Use of the formula: 1. such as the copepod Oithona. copepods swim rapidly for short distances and readily dodge water bottles. Marx and Herrnkind 1985). It is difficult to sample even very small animals. shellfish studies have been directed toward the ecology of these organisms. or aspirators. but investigators can make them for their own cameras by photographing underwater targets at a series of known distances in front of the camera with different f-stops and determining the depth of field in the resulting photographs. salps. Instructions for some underwater cameras provide these calculations.

94 and 1. ecological studies of the commercially important blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) have been successful through the use of ultrasonic biotelemetry (Wolcott and Hines 1996). they will burrow quickly FIGURE 9. the tail can cut a diver’s fingers. this will prevent animals from crushing each other. 9. Lobsters inhabit burrows. oysters.6. affords researchers the opportunity to analyze movement. Banding or pegging before the animal is put in a catch bag should inactivate lobster claws. and caves in shallow coastal waters and in ocean depths that are beyond the range of surface-supplied diving.1 Collecting Techniques Many shellfish (crabs.FIGURE 9. (0. In the Chesapeake Bay.9 m) into the boulder-rock substrate of the ocean bottom (see Figure 9.13 Plexiglas Reference Frame in Midwater nocturnally active in their natural environment. their crusher claws will be brought into action. and clams) inhabit tunnels and burrows on the bottom. Lobsters frequently will autotomize (drop) antennae and claws when handled. When picked up. bearing in mind that spiny lobsters move much faster than American lobsters and are much more sensitive to being disturbed. Juvenile spiny lobster settle out and spend their initial years in surfgrass on the high-energy coast of California.0°F (-1. Lobsters can also be grabbed by their ripper claws and held for 1 – 2 seconds.5° and 34. they remain in their homes. physiological function and behavior of marine organisms. divers should 9-12 NOAA Diving Manual . Commercial crabs are found in waters ranging from shallow estuaries to ocean depths that are beyond conventional diving limits. in conjunction with scuba. temperate waters of estuaries. Divers should assess the efficiency and design of this gear before using it. but are active at night in the confines of an aquarium tank. Gloves should also be used when handling specimens topside. American lobsters spend most of their first three years of life in a labyrinth of tunnels projecting as many as three ft. when water temperatures range between 28. American lobsters do this especially during the winter months. depending on the size and species. bays. if held longer. Caution should always be exercised when collecting crabs because they can pinch with their claws. When collecting shellfish. lobsters. The conventional method for commercial harvesting of the spiny and New England clawed lobster is the wire or wooden trap. habitat utilization. Others (scallops.1C). Blue crabs live in the shallow. Replicating both of these environments in an aquarium is difficult. such injuries can vary from a cut finger (Blue crab or Dungeness crab) to a broken finger (Stone crab or Alaskan King crab). When frightened. behind the claws.14). tunnels. The American lobster can be collected easily by grabbing it from the back. This powerful new research tool. spiny lobsters and slipper lobsters should be held by the back. Gloved divers can catch them easily by hand with short-handled scoop nets and tongs. and abalone) live in beds and reefs or creep across the seafloor and rocks.14 Benthic Environment of the American Lobster always wear gloves and carry catch bags. if grabbed around the abdomen (tail). and sounds in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. Those that are more than one-half pound in size are nocturnal in their movements. during daylight hours.

off the Atlantic coast states.7 cm) pair of tongs is useful to extricate them from burrows and shell houses.2 lbs. These sedentary shellfish are easy to collect by hand. numbered carefully to note specific locations. Their claws can be brought into action quickly and can easily crush fingers. divers can collect them by grabbing them cautiously from behind. has been used. The Alaskan King crab lives in the cold waters of the North Pacific Ocean and the Bering and Okhotsk seas. Loose piles of scallops should not be left on the bottom because the scallops may swim away. estuarine. 9. They are nocturnal foragers of algae and rest during the day at their “homespots” on a rock. the depth of tag penetration can be controlled by the tagger. and sounds in the Gulf of Mexico.6 ft.16). measured. Density varies from one or two individual scallops to dozens per square meter. Figure 9. Oysters can temporarily be piled loosely on the bottom during harvesting. [10 kg]) migrate seasonally between deep and shallow water to spawn. Young crabs (2 – 3 years old) inhabit shallow waters in large “pods” of 2. There are two different methods of tagging marine organisms: The animal can either be tagged in situ or be captured and brought to the surface for tagging. the value of the information gained from a return should be carefully considered. Dungeness crabs are found in shallow inshore. Stone crabs should be handled by their rear legs. Getting one’s fingers stuck in the shell of a live scallop is painful. and ocean bottoms in depths up to 328 ft. FIGURE 9. Ebert (1964) described a fish-tagging gun that inserted a standard dart tag into bottom-dwelling fishes and which could be adjusted to account for skin or scale thickness. pugnacious crabs can be collected easily with a short-handled scoop net. These fastswimming. Stone crabs inhabit burrows. they live in waters that are up to 328 ft. and examined in detail before release. These large crabs. (100 m). can move quickly. if this is done cautiously.15 Electroshock grid Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-13 . seasonal distribution. Lobsters have been tagged within their natural environments with short-term (lost at shedding) and longterm (retained at shedding) tags and marks. [2 m] and 22 lbs. it must be washed and oiled carefully following inversion to avoid corrosion.into the bottom or swim away with great speed. Although body dimensions can be measured under water. and together in large beds of thousands of individuals. With practice. As the crabs walk across the bottom. Although more traumatic for the organism. Scallops live in bays. Individual crabs can be captured from behind and placed in a mesh bag. Color-coded tags may be inserted into the dorsal musculature between the abdomen and thorax of the lobster with the aid of a No. Because this particular gun has many metal parts. They can be found partially buried and lying around shells and rocks or walking along the bottom. Mature crabs (males range up to 6. so they should be handled carefully.7 TAGGING AND MARKING TECHNIQUES Tagging aquatic organisms can provide information on many aspects of underwater life. (100 m) deep. and growth rate. They are collected easily by hand or scoop net. A pry bar can be used to collect samples that are attached.15 shows an electroshocking grid used to collect fish for tagging. An iron pry bar can be used to “pop” them loose. occasionally even faster than a diver can swim.000 individuals and migrate to deeper water as they mature (Drew 1988). More recently. originally designed for marking clothing (see Figure 9. The needle of the tagging gun is placed against the organism and the tag is inserted into the body tissue. and offshore waters from southern California to Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Care must be taken to avoid cutting the animal’s foot since these organisms are hemophiliacs. the plastic “T” tag. Abalone inhabit rocky coasts from Alaska to southern California. the latter method has the advantage of allowing the animal to be weighed. sounds. Oysters inhabit relatively shallow waters in estuaries. and in the North Pacific.000 – 3. Lobster dens may be marked with styrofoam floats. bays. (1 kg) in weight. depressions. Because tagging can damage the animal. They occur individually. which range up to 9. nearshore to offshore movement. including coastal migration.4 inches (24 cm) across the back and up to 2. and they can sometimes be pried loose quite easily with a quick motion. in clusters attached to rocks and pilings. a satisfactory method for determining body mass (weight) has not been developed. An 18 inch (45. and shell houses in the coastal waters along the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico states. Methods are available to take measurements in situ under water.

Tagging fin fish requires special skill and handling. When conducting a survey of lobsters.200 ft. This technique involves attaching a small battery-powered luminous beacon to the shell. behavioral changes caused by unnatural light flashes are therefore probably eliminated with this method.4 cm) long hypodermic needle is used to drill completely through the body cavity. Animals tagged in this fashion seem to be unaffected. During the night. this enables the diver to press the urchin down into the foam to hold it still during the drilling operation.2 x 2. Long-term dart and spaghetti tags can be inserted at the isthmus of the carapace and abdomen. The urchin first is carefully removed from its hole or crevice and placed in a holding device made from a weighted plastic bowl lined with thick polyurethane foam. A loop is put around each of the lateral spines of the carapace. (366 m) on an open bottom and 60 ft. The same technique can be used to tag sea cucumbers. These tags are small (about 1. a significant alteration of the population distribution was noted during the course of several weeks of capturing and tagging (Miller et al. After the filament or wire has been threaded through the needle. (18. painting the shell. using colored quick-setting cement.16 Tagging a Spiny Lobster on the Surface 20 syringe needle (see Figure 9. or staining the shell with vital stains. 1971). except that the wire can be pushed through by hand instead of with a drill. Animals studied by this method are subjected to a constant. The excurrent holes on abalone shells are very convenient points of attachment for tags. trimming the tags short is important because fish may otherwise nibble on the long loose ends. pulling the wire through the body cavity and leaving wire and tags in place on the urchin. the movements of the abalone with the light source on its shell are recorded FIGURE 9. Tagging of oysters. and the loose ends are trimmed.4 inch or 3 x 5 x 1 cm) and weigh only a few grams. In one study. or phosphorescent dyes. Other methods of shortterm tagging include staining by injection or dipping with vital stains. Carapace tags for Blue crabs consist of an information-bearing plastic spaghetti tag with a loop of stainless leader wire at each end. The size of the fish must be sufficient so that the tag will 9-14 NOAA Diving Manual . it should be kept in mind that the very presence of the diver and the tagging procedures might affect overall behavior. and tags have been known to last for six to eight months. They operate in the general frequency range of 70 kHz and may be picked up as far away as 1. low-intensity light and are not illuminated by the periodic flashes of highintensity light required for direct observation in night diving.0 x 0. Long-term and short-term tags also have been used by divers in crab population studies.17 Tagging a Spiny Lobster in Situ on sensitive film by a camera fixed several meters above the seafloor.FIGURE 9. Movement of a marked animal may be recorded either as light streaks (in time exposures taken with a still camera) or as a moving point of light (in time-lapse cinematography). This method involves drilling a tiny hole completely through the sea urchin and inserting an inert filament (monofilament line or high-quality stainless steel line) that has been strung with small pieces of colorcoded vinyl tubing. The ends of the wire are then twisted together to form a loop. and abalone can be accomplished by attaching Petersen tags with glue or a wire.3 m) when the tagged lobster is in a crevice. A technique has been developed for tagging echinoderms (Lees 1968). Movements and locations of lobsters at night may be determined by using small sonic tags (pingers). With sea cucumbers.16 inch or 4 mm) into one of the five tail fan sections may make a secondary mark. adjusted. 4 1/2 inches (11. A method for tagging abalone has been reported by Tutschulte (1968). the point from which the crab exits when shedding. the entire drill/needle assembly is slowly withdrawn.17). Short-term tags can be applied to the legs or carapace. scallops. and then crimped with a leader sleeve. An ordinary hand drill fitted with an 18-gauge. Punching a small hole (0. this mark will be retained through at least one molt and will permit recognition of a lobster that has lost its primary tag. fluorescent dyes.

2 inches [3 cm] or larger) is placed near the lip and then rubbed firmly across the shell at right angles to the ribs. The dye does not harm the coral.8 inch [10 – 20 mm] in shell height and one cc for scallops 1. implanted on a rocky outcrop.4 – 0. To apply cement to a scallop. The dye can be injected via disposable plastic syringes and disposable needles. Acrylic paint tags inserted in this manner have lasted as long as 16 months. and then emerges. and then the needle should be pulled back under the skin and withdrawn. where they should be held for several hours to allow further hardening. Acropora palmata. Scallops marked in this way have retained this marking material for 15 months or more. A number of techniques have been used to tag fin fish. Although several different dyes have been used. This in-and-out technique ensures that the tag is placed immediately below the skin. parallel to the body surface. the best position for producing a long-lasting tag. and dart tags.. which later shows up as fluorescent lines under black light (e. the organism should be removed from the water and the upper valve should be pressed into a soft sponge to remove excess water. com. 3) it adheres to a wet surface and hardens under water. Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-15 . depending on the size of the species to be tagged. Figure 9. Another method for marking marine organisms involves the use of various dyes. which causes a small pocket of dye to be deposited under the scale. the needle is inserted from the rear. The recommended mixture for this purpose is: • Seven parts Portland gray (or white) cement (Portland Type II is best because it is formulated especially for use in seawater) • One part moulding paste • Two parts builder’s sand (fine grain) This mixture will start to harden in 3 – 5 minutes (or sooner if less moulding paste is used). They can be inserted into the back of the fish with a hollow needle so that the plastic streamer bearing the legend trails posteriorly. For small-scaled and scaleless species.27 cm) in diameter and come in a variety of colors.g. Marked scallops can be returned immediately to the holding tank. This technique has been used successfully in situ for studying the behavior of reef fish. plastic-based acrylic paints are the most satisfactory and apparently do not harm the fish or significantly affect their behavior. Avoid the use of bait. Don’t tag fish that have been tired by a long fight. The final consistency should be similar to that of firm putty. This type of tag can be attached by running the line through the fish’s back beneath the rear of the dorsal fin. Scallops have been marked successfully using a quicksetting calcium carbonate cement (Hudson 1972). This tightly grouts the depression between the ribs and leaves a thin coating of cement over the shell. Lake (1983) lists several guidelines for tagging finfish: • • • • • • • • Use barbless hooks to catch the fish. The same type of cement has been used to transplant live coral in reef areas and to mark large marine gastropods and other delicate bivalve mollusks (Hudson. During tagging. spaghetti tags. 1978). Although this technique permits fairly rapid tagging.95 – 1. so that the tip enters the skin. Tag during cold water season whenever possible. forage. runs underneath it for a short distance. and three parts of water should be added to 10 parts of dry mix. the method is not recommended for reef fishes. purple urchin and coral studies).not impair the ability of the fish to navigate. Keep gills free of sand and dirt. Dart tags consist of a vinyl plastic tube with a nylon tip and barb. For large-scaled species. Disk tags are about 3/8 – 1/2 inch (0. A tetracycline soak incorporates itself into an organisms CaCO3 matrix. Don’t tag fish that are bleeding from the gills. If colored cement is desired. A small quantity of cement (about 1/2 cc for scallops 0. durability depends in part on the color of the paint. Spaghetti tags are made of soft tubular-vinyl plastic about 1/16 inch (0. Another method of tagging fin fish involves injecting colored dyes subcutaneously (Thresher and Gronell 1978). make sure that fish are not out of the water for more than 60 seconds. Slight pressure should be placed on the syringe to start the flow of dye (and ensure that the needle is not plugged). Several quick thumb strokes are necessary to distribute cement evenly out to the lip so that new shell growth can be measured accurately. the upper surface of the ribs should be visible through the coating. The materials should be thoroughly mixed while dry. these tags tend to come loose more easily than those implanted via the first two methods. and 4) it makes a durable mark. This type of tag should not be used on fish that will grow to a large size because the tag will cause pressure on the fish as it grows (Randall 1961). Alizarin Red dye has traditionally been found useful for making permanent growth line marks in living corals and other invertebrates. This material meets four criteria: 1) it does not harm living tissue. the needle should be inserted under the rear edge of a scale and moved gently from side to side while pressure is applied to the syringe. Only enough cement should be applied to fill the inter-rib areas. The smooth motion results in an even line of color below the skin. with a slight upward tilt. pers. Three common methods involve Petersen disk tags.18 shows a living elkhorn coral. no more than ten percent additive by volume should be used. Hold fish with a wet rag over their heads. with monofilament nylon in the center. 2) it is easy to apply and readily visible. Because this type of tag can snag on rocks or coral. or avoid predators.16 cm) in diameter. so that the strength of the cement is not reduced. Two methods have been used. They can be attached to the back of the fish with monofilament line. and subsequent growth can be measured after the coral is sliced with a saw.

In some cases only indicator taxa. As with all underwater work.19 Algal Cover of Rock Substrate FIGURE 9. Presence/absence of data or estimates of abundance are utilized for experimental studies as well as for descriptive investigations. such as species of brown kelp. standing crop data can be obtained by collecting the entire vegetation from a given area and sorting the material into component species in the laboratory. These sources provide up-to-date reviews of methods. Data can be recorded by notations on data sheets treated for underwater use. or on coral reefs. subtidal biological methods have been summarized in books that draw on hundreds of scientific and technical publications (Littler and Littler 1985). or video camera (see Chapter 5). Underwater sites are usually located on the surface by sighting or buoys and on the bottom by a variety of fixed markers. In recent years. dominance. Generally. These specimens can then be 9. This is the region where sufficient light can penetrate the water to support the growth of diverse and often dense associations of photosynthetic organisms that grow attached to bottom substrates (see Figure 9. Their applicability to subtidal work is enhanced by their efficiency under conditions where time. The sites where most research involving algal and angiosperm vegetation takes place are shallow enough to be accessible with scuba equipment. Benthic algae can occur at depths greater than 900 ft. in general. in estuaries or bays.1 Field Procedures As with any ecological project. Sampling programs that are designed to record abundance and distribution patterns of plants and other sessile organisms are described in Sections 9.FIGURE 9. and visibility are often severely limited. by collections of organisms. however. and quadrats arranged in fixed.18 Cement Used to Implant Elkhorn Coral However. voice recorder.19). Large-scale biological studies may include samples or catalogues of plants. Accordingly. grids. various forms of plants will develop. the objectives and constraints of the study and the features of underwater sites determine which techniques are appropriate. usually are counted. As an index of productivity. rough water. Methods suitable for sessile animals are particularly appropriate for investigating marine plants.1 and 9. a radius-length line attached to a central fixture is used to partition the area and guide the diver. selected on the basis of economic value. depending on the need for taxonomic precision. systematic. turfs. mobility. photography. or haphazard (“random” is rarely practical) positions.8 BOTANICAL SAMPLING Studies of benthic macroalgae and seagrasses in their natural environments focus on both subtidal and intertidal zones and depths. the questions posed and site-specific features limit and strongly influence the choice of sampling method. or low visibility.5. underwater botanical sampling. as well as discussions of their relative advantages and disadvantages.8.2.5. circular sampling designs have been found useful in sites of heavy surge. are of interest. Large discrete thalli. on beaches. photographic and video sampling are newer underwater techniques. to differentiate and classify plant communities and to analyze the data to identify changes. 9. frondose. or ease of identification or counting. for example). 9-16 NOAA Diving Manual . In circular sampling. Data may sometimes be combined for forms or taxa (crusts. depends on the use of transect lines. the following paragraphs represent only a brief review of botanical field procedures. The methods employed for these various objectives used to rely on sampling procedures that had largely been adapted from terrestrial or intertidal studies. whether of data or specimens. but few species occur in these relatively deep habitats. (275 m). Wherever stable rocky or sedimentary substrates occur. Studies that rely on these methods seek. Recently. recorded with estimates of area covered.

0 µM) and phosphorus (as PO43-. but not all. To get complete coverage of events in an area and to gain understanding of the natural cycles. shells. and the diversity of plants on rock surfaces usually is far greater than in soft sediment or sandy areas. This procedure assays the light-saturated net photosynthetic rate (Pmax) of the most common macrophytes in the study area in response to nitrogen and phosphorus enrichment (using the dissolvedO2 technique). 9. This technique avoids both pseudoreplication and novelty effects that could bias grazing patterns and rates. for example. Northern latitude kelp taxa.8. near bird islands). Some plants have narrow temperature tolerances. although some. Marine vascular plants (seagrasses) follow the reverse pattern. Most. and mangrove roots are other places algae are likely to attach. The above concentrations were chosen to saturate the uptake rates in the small volumes used during nutrient pulsing (4-liter freezer bags). and may act as indicator species because their presence or absence suggests certain environmental characteristics. such as Phyllospadix.dried. dull-beige rubber bands. a non-destructive sampling or experimental design can be implemented. 9. weighed.4 Palatability Experiments Natural populations of reef fishes are used to assess the herbivore resistances of predominant macrophytes. Percent eaten is determined by remeasuring the algal segments. it is necessary to sample repeatedly throughout the year. or small plastic vials with attached lids are useful for holding samples. 9. freezer bags. as well as by sea urchins. The algae are collected while submerged and separated into approximately 10 cm2 clumps to avoid bias arising from a size-based differential attractiveness to visual feeders. an investigator should survey local environmental conditions so that he will know where and how to sample. seagrasses and larger algae themselves provide substrates for a great array of smaller epiphytic plants. as an index to the long-term integration of ambient nutrient concentrations. If plant samples are necessary for identification. If there is no reason for collecting material. shipwrecks. Seasonal variations in the diversity and abundance of plants is very conspicuous in certain parts of the world. projecting the images in the laboratory and scoring the percent cover of predominant taxa (Littler and Littler 1985). barnacles. This alga is a highly preferred food item by both parrotfishes and surgeonfishes. The 10 cm2 clumps are attached to independent rubble fragments by thin dull-beige rubber bands and deployed at ~0. It is best to return to the same station to monitor changes over time using repeated measures statistical designs. The clumps are photographed immediately after deployment and six hours later.8. the size and number of quadrats to be used must be determined by appropriate tests. Because benthic plants are attached to the substrate. it is often more efficient to collect pieces of rock or substrates than to remove and handle plants during the dive. Factorial treatments include overnight pulsing with nitrogen (as NH4+. Fifteen replicates are placed haphazardly in each study zone for three hours. portions or selected branches are often adequate.5 Nutrient Enrichment Assays and Primary Productivity Nutrient-enrichment bioassays are used to test the hypothesis that a given study site has had an oligotrophic or eutrophic antecedent history. Surgeonfishes and parrotfishes usually show no wariness and begin feeding immediately. 9. 1. moving from clump to clump and feeding persistently as they locate a particularly palatable species. scraper. Quantification of losses is determined digitally from the photographs. both N + P and a control (no nutrients added). If small thalli are needed for laboratory examination. Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-17 . The high magnification afforded by macrophotography of the 108 cm2 quadrats enhances the resolution. Frequently. 9. The bioassays are performed in situ in incubation jars under natural irradiance levels and water temperatures. macroalgae require a hard substrate for attachment. Experiments are run on the fore-reef slope zone of high herbivory.8.g. Comparisons are made between treatments to detect changes in the relative abundances of the benthic producer groups that recruit. For ecological studies or census data. and reduced to ash for analysis of organic content.. 16. Pilings. Researchers often find it advisable to use an area somewhat larger than the minimal one to be confident of establishing statistically significant differences between samples. These concentrations represent realistic levels encountered in eutrophic reef environments (e. such as species accumulation curves. do not live in warm waters and are not found in tropical latitudes except where cold currents or deep cold water provide suitable circumstances. colonize and persist over a given experimental period.8. facilitating discrimination of turf species and crusts.0 cm lengths and attached to ~3 x 10 cm dead coral-rubble fragments by thin (~1 mm thick x 5 cm long).6 Collecting Techniques Before beginning a study that requires the collection of plants. dead corals. grow on the rocky shores of the western United States. The alga is cut into 7.5 meter intervals in a randomized pattern (12 replicates per species). a tool such as a putty knife. Mesh bags.6 µM ). or knife is usually needed to remove entire plants if these are required for voucher specimens or for later study. most species grow on soft or sandy substrates.8.3 Herbivory Assays Natural levels of coral reef herbivory are assayed using the palatable red alga Acanthophora spicifera.2 Macro-Photogrammetric Method Abundances of each algal group are determined following initial set-up and subsequently by detailed field estimates and taking 108 cm2 macrophotographs (9 x 12 cm framer).

are measured. the pile should be compressed. may take a full week to dry completely. Most marine algae have a glue-like substance on the outside of the cells that makes specimens more or less self-adherent to most kinds of paper. that may be 100 ft. the stack should be taken apart.20). and the damp blotters should be replaced with dry ones. using a weight or the pressure from heavy rocks or from straps wrapped around the plant press. or rare. An opal cosine collector can be added to make the system behave more like the plant’s surface does in terms of light absorption. current. If an investigator wishes to obtain a census of an area. boards slightly larger than the herbarium paper and blotters are generally used. brightly lit waters. self-contained light meters (see Figure 9. The introduction of colored filters in front of the meter greatly reduces its sensitivity.8.9 m) in diameter and as many as 400 or 500 stipes. the paper is drained and placed on a sheet of blotting paper and topped with a square of muslin or other plain cloth or a piece of waxed paper. The top and bottom pieces should be stiff.7 Specimen Preparation and Preservation To determine the kinds of plants present. a system for easily changing the colored filters. The usual approach is to float specimens in large. methods used. time. herbivores. A clipboard with waterproof paper and pencil for notes and a field notebook should be used to record data immediately after diving. Vouchers for such data as well as for all critical taxa should be assembled and retained with the raw data. The apparatus needed to make such measurements generally incorporates a selenium photocell of increased surface area which augments the current output per unit of illumination. Data for large plants. When 20 or 30 layers have been stacked. isolated with colored filters. Because some plants live only in intertidal or shallow water. notes should be made on the collected specimens while they are still fresh. FIGURE 9. and other environmental factors should be obtained. are usually based on in situ observations and measurements. The usual method for preserving specimens for later detailed examination and herbarium preparation is simple and effective. Census data become more useful if the relative abundance of each species is at least estimated. and a sensitive ammeter whose range can be altered by current attenuation circuitry. Another layer of blotterpaper-plant-cloth-blotter-cardboard is stacked on top. If possible.e. collections should be made over a broad depth range.20 Conducting Light Measurements Although procedures for drying and mounting large algal and seagrass specimens are described in many easily obtained and standard guides. but such collectors can only be used in shallow. Formalin (2. salinity. while others live only in deep water. and a corrugated cardboard “ventilator” is placed on top. substrate. because plants that have extremely high acidic content may damage other forms of algae in the container. Standard herbarium paper will preserve a collection permanently. water temperature. Care should be exercised when placing several types of marine plants in a common container. depending on humidity. After several hours (or overnight). Many marine species are inconspicuous. and permanent slides are useful for ongoing work. Diving observations should be recorded as soon as possible. and the collector. (30 m) in length. Ideal field data should include notes on depth. visibility (clarity).. conspicuous sessile animals. 9. terrain. with holdfasts 3 ft. i. Herbarium and voucher specimens can be made from either fresh or preserved material. occasional. such as the kelp Macrocystis. a few simple procedures are described here.When several divers are involved in a study. (0. Using water. information on available light. This is covered with another blotter. For each station. but some. a system for incorporating “unknowns” (specimens that cannot be identified in the field) should be included in the planning stage. Many small algae dry in one day using this technique. flat trays and to slide them carefully onto sheets of heavyweight herbarium paper. whether common. such as the large brown algae. but this paper is not a prerequisite for making a useful set of voucher specimens. This is because a sensing system that responds differently to different wavelengths is being used to measure light that is becoming increasingly monochromatic with depth. and these require careful microscopic examination and identification in follow-up work. Accurate light measurements within a given plant community can be obtained by using small. collections from diverse substrates should be sampled. The use of photographic light meters that incorporate selenium photocells is unsatisfactory unless restricted spectral regions.5–5 percent) will preserve small or delicate forms. There are standard herbarium methods for pressing plants and some special variations for marine algae. the date. the plants are arranged on the paper. one or more large plastic 9-18 NOAA Diving Manual .

Rocks. alcohol. The totals obtained by all observers are averaged for a mean species count of territorial and schooling fish. Some small plants can be preserved with general collections. Articulated corallines should be fixed in four percent formalin and ten percent glycerin before they are placed on paper and then brushed with a diluted solution of white glue as an alternative to older methods of storing in boxes. Each observer makes counts by species for sections of the reef. benefit the anglers and economies of shore communities. Fabricated units are commonly used in Japan and Taiwan. Fish aggregating devices (FAD’s) also are becoming popular in the United States. An alternative method for preserving whole large kelp involves soaking them for several hours or days in a solution consisting of ten percent carbolic acid and 30 percent each of water. Planning is needed to ensure the success of artificial reefs. most of the preservative can be drained off. They provide food. The charting of reef material on the site and any changes that occur over time are important pieces of information to researchers and managers. More recently. and orientation in an otherwise relatively featureless environment. once preserved. and fiberglass-coated plastic units have been tested in the United States. and freshwater environments. estuarine. Retaining small pieces of rock with encrusting algae attached helps keep the plants intact.22 shows an artificial reef complex. Plant and animal specimens should not be mixed. made up with freshwater) is recommended for longer storage. If materials are improperly placed or constructed. estuarine. less than ten percent of the continental shelf can be classified as reef habitat. preserved specimens should be kept in a dark place. Samples obtained from many stations can be kept in separate bags in a single large storage drum that can be sealed tightly to prevent formalin from leaking. One common method uses a solution of 80 percent clear corn syrup and four percent formalin. these have been used for many years in the Western Pacific. It is important to fix or preserve such specimens as soon as they are removed from seawater. remain in good condition for several weeks if they are kept damp. creating a successful reef involves more than placing miscellaneous materials in ocean. and behavioral observations should be recorded on waterproof data sheets (see Section 9. Small bags or vials should be used for selected fragile or rare plants. Permanent slides may be made of microscopic species. scrap tires (see Figure 9. Species. When visibility is 4 ft. including gas and oil structures. Properly sited and constructed artificial reefs can provide the same benefits as natural reefs. snappers. damaged concrete pipe and building rubble. it can provide a habitat for fish and invertebrates. spawning and nursery habitat. and increase the total number of fish within a given area. (1. Christmas trees. shelter. Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-19 . concrete structures. If possible. number of individuals. and glycerin. Divers can play a key role in documenting the success of an artificial reef. tires. Artificial reefs function in the same manner as natural reefs. Although artificial reefs can enhance recreational and commercial fishing opportunities. one wet preserved specimen should be kept for each pressed specimen. but delicate specimens should be isolated. because taxonomic identification often depends on cell structure. as the syrup dries.3). Plants collected for histological study should be preserved in a manner that is appropriate for the particular technique to be used. these observations can be made by two or more divers. Much of the ocean. chemical analysis. For shipping. Even if rough bottom consists of low-profile rock outcrops. mean lengths. Specimens thus preserved may be dried and then rolled up for storage. provide more accessible and high-quality fishing grounds. they should be kept relatively cool and dark until placed in a killing (fixing) solution or used for physiological work. Many non-toxic solid wastes or surplus materials have been used in the United States to build reefs such as junked automobiles and streetcars. Because algae are photosynthetic organisms and the deleterious effects of surface light on the pigment systems of specimens from subtidal habitats can affect other metabolic processes. In all cases. or freshwater environments to provide or improve fish habitats. estuarine. surplus or derelict ships. culture inocula) require special treatment. Plants collected for particular purposes (electron microscopic study. and brush piles have been popular reef materials in freshwater. The slides should be allowed to dry slowly. The glycerin helps to keep the plants flexible indefinitely. fabricated structures such as Japanesestyle fish houses. and numerous other materials.21). This is especially important for unidentified species.bags can be used to hold samples of larger plants. and freshwater environment has a relatively barren. diver estimates of reef fish populations can be made by direct counts of the number and species at the reef sites. The best general preservative is a solution of three to four percent formalin in seawater buffered with one tablespoon of borax per gallon. The edges of the slide can be sealed with clear nail polish. 9.9 ARTIFICIAL REEFS/HABITATS Artificial reefs and habitats are manmade or natural objects intentionally placed in selected areas of marine. Atlantic spadefish. more should be added. such as black sea bass. because exposure to light causes preserved plants to fade. Natural reefs and rock outcrops are limited. Coralline algae and rock-encrusting species require special attention. because the plants. Also. all or part of a reef can disappear or break apart and interfere with commercial fishing operations or damage natural reefs in the vicinity. featureless bottom that does not provide the habitat that reef fish need. Ethyl alcohol (70 percent. Figure 9.2 m) or more. They can enhance fish habitat. and these are then totaled for the entire reef.

Bathymetric mapping is best done from a surface craft with echo-sounding equipment. 9-20 NOAA Diving Manual . Visibility should be measured after taking the picture to compare the areas covered by different photographs. the highest count obtained by any one observer is used. Surficial maps show the two-dimensional character and distribution of the material that comprises the sea floor.22 Diagram of an Artificial Reef Complex Sophisticated methods have greatly expanded scientists’ sampling abilities. observations may constitute the main data collected. These are small items. In some projects. sampling. and certain groupers. a plastic ruler can also be mounted on the edge of the board (see Figure 9. and collecting bag.SET SET SET GROUP SET SET UNIT SET GROUP GROUP SET SET SET UNIT COMPLEX SET FIGURE 9.1 Mapping Three basic types of mapping can be accomplished under water: bathymetric. is accurate note-taking. species. FIGURE 9. inclinometer. For example. The topics in this section are grouped into two general categories: characterization and experimentation. but the same techniques generally are applicable to research in lakes and rivers. morays. lights. They have also shown that these structures increase total biomass within a given area without detracting from biomass potential in other areas. Although most research projects require specific equipment. a small. Geological characterization includes mapping. and many of them can be combined into a single tool.23). 9. Scientific divers have used direct observation techniques to demonstrate that artificial reefs can be used to augment productive natural reef and rough bottom areas. yet careful observation is still the mainstay of most underwater geological studies. the print should then be turned over and the holes counted. One of the most important elements of underwater geological research. and most porgies. if conditions remain constant. It is advisable to supplement notes with a debriefing immediately after the dive and to record debriefing results along with the underwater notes.21 Tires as Underwater Habitats grunts.10. Experimental geological studies rely in part on information obtained from characterization studies. In this case. Other useful equipment of a general nature might include an underwater or video camera. For reclusive fish. and geological. but such studies now routinely entail experimentation as well. ruler. Bathymetric maps display the depth contour of the seafloor. Although the accuracy of fish population estimates varies with visibility. while experimentation deals with the real-time analysis of specific geological processes. careful documentation may be important either to select sampling sites later or to place a chosen study site into the larger context of its surrounding environment.10 GEOLOGY Most underwater geological research by divers has taken place in shallow marine waters. an assortment of small sampling bags or vials. oil-filled plastic surveying compass with inclinometer can be cemented to a clipboard or to a plastic writing surface and a pencil can be attached with rubber tubing. it is assumed that. coupled with agreement on what was seen. underwater geological research primarily involved the characterization of existing conditions. These include a compass. depth gauge. the counts represent population density. and geological mapping projects a three-dimensional analysis of the rocks that crop out on the seafloor. and small coring tubes. surficial. in other cases. and time of day. noteboard. but they go much further in that they require extensive interplay between geology and other disciplines such as biology or fluid mechanics. Initially. therefore. Multibeam swath sonar 9. and testing parts of the underwater environment. the photo print should be placed on a soft surface and a pin hole put through each identified fish. there are some basic tools that a diving geologist should carry routinely. such as cardinalfish. Photographs taken at intervals from the same location also can be used to count and identify species.

a tube with cross hairs at each end. Control points at known distances from each other are selected and marked on the seafloor around the site. They consist of a wooden table. Simple plane tables are necessary. and the distance between the sighted point on the length of the pole and the lower table provides the vertical elevation relationship. Elevations are measured by the third diver. and sightings are taken from each table and labeled consecutively. The resultant vectors. These forms develop in response to near-bottom currents. although expensive.7 ft. The efficiency of this method is limited by the clarity of the water and the requirement that three divers record each point. If the tables are not at the same elevation. or when taking precise measurements of a highly irregular bottom or of features too small to be resolved from the surface. the accuracy of location. Horizontal measurements with a meter tape made from two of these control points to any object or point on the site provide the necessary information for plotting the position on a plane. and a straightedge on a weighted base. allows elevations to be calculated from simultaneous readings of upward or downward angles. measures the distance to any point. the relationship is determined by placing a 19. using two divers equipped with voice communication. pulled out from the top of the shaft. the geologist needs to determine the average size of the bed forms over a section of seafloor. or the precision of depth determination and recording possible from a surface craft. weighted at the lower end and buoyed at the top with a float. the nature of the sediment. A third diver moves the range pole from point to point on the site. A diver mans each of the two plane tables. create difficult sampling problems. where they are of considerable use in deciphering ancient environments. Meter Tape Triangulation Method This triangulation method may be preferable to Peterson’s wheel method when small areas need to be surveyed under conditions of reasonable visibility. Bathymetric mapping can also be done in detail over a small bottom area to determine the area’s microrelief. Scaled photographs of bed forms provide important information on their shape and orientation. This is a simple method of making measurements under limited visibility conditions. and their presence indicates aspects of the dynamics of the environment that otherwise may not be readily apparent. Although this method is time consuming. (6 m) long calibrated range pole. Plane Table Triangulation Method This triangulation method may be used in clear water or on land. Two plane tables are placed on the bottom. who moves a marker up or down the pole until he or she receives a stop signal from the diver manning one of the plane tables. one on each side of the site. The 0° on the rim is aligned with magnetic North. both for position triangulation and for taking elevations. In mapping features such as sand ripples. A diver under water generally cannot match the range and efficiency. it is inexpensive. Small-scale bed forms are an example of an important geological feature too small to be resolved from surface craft. Initial sightings are made on a previously selected reference or primary fixed control point and across the site from one table to the other. A meter tape. such features may be preserved in the geological record. three movable legs. with the direction read on the wheel rim where it is crossed by the tape. A simple alidade is constructed by combining a sighting device. establish the position of both tables on a horizontal plane. The distance is then measured from that point to the object being positioned. underwater mapping may be the only practical means of compiling the bathymetry. Moreover. FIGURE 9.systems are available in hull-mounted and towed fish configurations. in unnavigable water. and a weight. Sheets of frosted plastic are then tacked to the table tops and the alidades are set on these. and is especially adaptable to level and uncomplicated sites. on the lower table. Peterson’s Wheel-Meter Tape Triangulation Method This triangulation method requires a wheel that is mounted on a vertical shaft and that has a rim marked in degrees. A slightly larger wheel. A sighting is made from the upper plane. however.23 Underwater Geological Compass Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-21 . However. The plane table diver uses the horizontal element of the cross hairs for this measurement. mounted over and perpendicular to the first so that it can pivot around it. The small size of the bed forms. requires little equipment and only a few divers. and leveled. The shaft is driven into the bottom at selected locations. Lines are inscribed on each plastic drawing surface with ordinary lead pencils and are then labeled. their accuracy is unsurpassed. and the fact that bed forms often are located in areas of strong wave-induced or unidirectional currents. plus a measurement of the distance between the two points.

Dumas Measuring Frame Method Archeologists have successfully used this method of precision mapping for small areas. A 16.4 ft. (5 m) square metal frame is fitted with four telescopic legs and extension couplings. The telescopic legs enable the frame to be leveled a few meters above a sloping site, and the extension couplings allow the size to be indefinitely doubled by fitting new sections into place. Using two sides of the frame as tracks, a horizontal crossbar mounted on wheels can be moved from one side of the frame to the other. This crossbar, in turn, is traversed by a yoke holding a vertical pole. The mobile crossbar, the vertical pole, and the frame are calibrated in centimeters. The vertical pole is adjusted to touch any object within the frame. The coordinates of the point are recorded from three measurements read on the frame, the beam, and the elevation pole. The details around the point must be drawn by a diver hovering over portable 6.6 ft. (2 m) grids placed directly on the site materials. These simple grids are divided into 7.9-inch (20 cm) squares, which are designated by numbers and letters marked on the sides of the grids. The measuring frame is used to fix the positions of the corners of the grid. Although this method and the Dumas Measuring Frame method are no longer used extensively, they may be useful in certain circumstances. Merifield-Rosencrantz Method A simple method of determining the three-dimensional positions of a number of ground control reference marker stakes has been developed and tested by Merifield and Rosencrantz (1966). Two divers are used for the survey. The procedure consists of the following operations: 1. A rough sketch of the approximate locations of the points to be surveyed is drawn on a frosted plastic sheet for underwater recording. Using a tape measure, the slant distance between the various points is determined. A lattice work of measurements should be made, forming a triangular net (three sides of all triangles); this eliminates the need for making angle measurements. When possible, more than the minimum set of measurements should be taken. For example, if surveying a square that has a point at each corner, all four sides and both diagonals should be measured. One of these measurements is redundant, but it will enable the divers to check the accuracy of the measurements and to detect errors. (Errors can easily happen when a large number of points are being measured.) 2. The vertical height of each point is measured using a simple but extremely accurate level. A stake is driven into the ground in the middle of the array of points. A clear plastic hose with an inner diameter of 0.37 inch (0.94 cm) is fastened to the top of the central stake, with one end of the hose pointing down. The hose should be long enough to reach the farthest point to be measured. To set up the level, a diver first works all the air bubbles out of the hose.

The free end is held at the same level as the end attached to the stake. The diver then blows into the free end and fills the hose with air. As it fills, the hose will rise and form an inverted “u” in the water. The diver then swims to each point to be surveyed with the free end of the hose. A measuring stick is placed on the point and held vertically. The free end of the hose is placed alongside the stick and pulled down until bubbles are seen rising from the fixed end of the hose. When this occurs, the water level at the measuring stick is even with the mouth of the fixed end, and the vertical measurements can be read off the stick. If visibility conditions prevent seeing the fixed end, the hose at the free end should be pulled down slowly until the water level remains steady with respect to the measuring stick. When this occurs, bubbles will come out of the free end, even if poor visibility keeps them from being seen. 3. True horizontal survey distances and vertical heights are then calculated from these data using basic trigonometry and a hand-held scientific calculator. The microrelief of a small section of seafloor covered by unconsolidated sediment can be measured from one or a set of adjoining box cores (the basic box coring technique is shown in Figure 9.24). Because the surficial sediment in the box core may be modified during the coring process, additional steps must be taken when surface relief is desired. Newton (1968) covered the sediment surface with a layer of dyed sand followed by a layer of native sand to provide a protective covering before coring. After the core was impregnated with casting resin, the microrelief was obtained from slabs. This type of box coring is not only time consuming but is also extremely difficult to accomplish under the influence of strong currents. Ripple height and wave length can be established under water and, where closely spaced, the resulting profiles can be used to create a three-dimensional map of a section of the seafloor. The sophistication of the equipment used to establish ripple profiles differs greatly, and the corresponding resolution of the data varies accordingly. Inman (1957) used a greased “comb” (see Figure 9.25) to obtain a profile of the large ripples that form in medium and coarse sand. In principle, this technique should give a fairly accurate profile of the ripples as long as the spacing of the comb elements is small compared with the ripple wave length. In practice, the comb is awkward to use because it has to be handled carefully to prevent grease from fouling divers and equipment and to ensure that the adhered grains are not lost before the trace can be measured. If visibility permits, photographing a scaled rod laid transverse to the ripples produces a quick but accurate measure of ripple wave length (see Figure 9.26). To measure the small ripples that form in fine sand, Inman (1957) laid a Plexiglas sheet on top of the ripples and marked off the crests with a grease pencil. Using this method, ripple heights could only be estimated, and the problem of ripple distortion


NOAA Diving Manual

Taking and processing of sand box cores to identify internal structure: aÐSenckenberg boxes, aligned in a series, shown here as normal to a northtrending shoreline (L). Box #1 is nearly completely emplaced, boxes #2 and 3 partly emplaced. Spiral anchor screwed in sand behind boxes provides stability and leverage for diver. bÐBox filled with sand, bottom plate secured with elastic band. Both sides were taped together prior to sampling to prevent their spreading apart during emplacement. cÐBox on side in laboratory, bottom plate removed. dÐUpperside of box detached and uppermost 2Ð3 cm of sand removed by careful troweling. eÐMetal tray inverted and pushed into sand surface. Orientation data transferred to tray. fÐTray removed and sand leveled and dried. Orientation data on underside of tray. gÐSand within tray impregnated with about 120 cc of epoxy resin. When resin has set, orientation data is transferred to the sand slab. hÐSand slab removed from tray, internal structure outlined by surface relief provided by preferential penetration of resin through individual beds. Orientation data on underside of slab.

FIGURE 9.24 Box cores (Senckenberg) by the Plexiglas was always present. Furthermore, reliability decreases markedly when the current velocity increases because of scour around the sheet and the diver’s inability to hold position long enough to mark the Plexiglas. Underwater surficial mapping requires identification and delineation of the materials and features that compose the seafloor. In a small area, this can be accomplished more accurately by a diver at the underwater site than by instruments from a surface craft. Surficial features (such as rock outcrops, coral reefs, unconsolidated sediment, and textural and compositional variations in the sediment) must be identified, and their distribution must be traced and plotted to scale. The problems of locating underwater features accurately and of covering a sufficiently large area can be minimized by towing the scientific diver who is in communication with a surface craft equipped for precise navigation. To ensure accurate location of features, the towed diver should mark the features with a float. In areas where the bottom can be seen clearly from above water, aerial photographs are useful to establish the general bottom configuration. The details can then be completed under water (see Figure 9.27). Geological mapping of the rocks that compose the seafloor is best accomplished by using seismic profiling techniques from a surface craft. If a specific question arises (such as the identification of a rock unit or the location of the surface trait of a

Procedures for Scientific Dives


FIGURE 9.25 Greased Comb fault) direct underwater observation must be used to answer it. For example, a geologist may need to know the attitude (strike and dip) of sedimentary strata or of fractures, joints, and faults in the rock. The strike of a rock bed is the compass direction that the bed would make when projected to a horizontal plane on the earth’s surface. To fix the orientation of the bed, however, it is also necessary to

FIGURE 9.26 Scaled Rod and Underwater Noteboard know the dip. The dip is the angle in degrees between a horizontal plane and the inclined angle that the bed makes, measured down from horizontal in a plane perpendicular to the strike. Dip is measured with an inclinometer. These relationships are illustrated in Figure 9.28.

Area mapped

Cabritto Horn Point

FIGURE 9.27 Aerial Photograph and Composite Map


NOAA Diving Manual

Rock outcrops on the seafloor may be located by noting irregularities in bottom profiles, anomalous shoals or reefs, or the presence of organisms such as kelp that normally grow on rocks. The rock outcrop may be so encrusted by bottom flora and fauna that recognition of features, such as stratification surfaces, fractures, and joint planes, is difficult. In such cases the diving geologist must clean off the encrustations, search for freshly scoured surfaces, or collect oriented samples in the hope of establishing the three-dimensional fabric of the rock in the laboratory. In some areas, differential weathering or erosion makes stratification surfaces and fractures more readily visible under water. To measure the attitude of planar elements in the rocks, the diver needs an adequate compass with an inclinometer (see Figure 9.29). Underwater housings can be built for the relatively large surveying compasses commonly used on shore. A hollow plastic dish almost completely filled with fluid (plastic petri dishes work well) and marked with perpendicular crosshairs on the flat surfaces is a useful adjunct to underwater mapping. The dish is placed in the plane of the feature whose attitude is to be measured and rotated until the enclosed air bubble coincides with a crosshair. The other crosshair, which is now horizontal, defines the strike of the feature, and the downward direction of the crosshair coincident with the bubble defines the dip and dip bearing. Some outcrops are located in water too deep to be sampled by these methods unless the diver is operating in the saturation mode. Where underwater sampling cannot be done, a photograph of the outcrop that includes a scale can yield a considerable amount of information. For any kind of underwater mapping, it is useful to prepare a base map on which the outlines of previously established features are drawn in permanent marker on a sheet of

plastic material. New features can be sketched in pencil on the base and, as they are confirmed, drawn onto the map. 9.10.2 Sampling Diving geologists sample everything from unconsolidated sediments to surface and subsurface rock formations. Although standard land techniques can be used directly in a few underwater situations, they usually must be modified (or new techniques must be developed) to cope with the underwater environment. Diving allows selective sampling, which is not possible when using boat-based methods. The diver sees exactly what is collected and how it relates to other aspects of the submarine environment. Compromised samples can be discarded and easily replaced. Also, diving may be the only way of sampling the seafloor in areas, such as the high-energy surf zone, inaccessible to surface craft. Rock sampling may be required in the compilation of an underwater geological map or to answer other questions. Samples broken directly from the outcrop are the most reliable, although talus fragments may be adequate if they can be traced to a particular outcrop. Breaking through the external weathered or encrusted rind of a submarine outcrop may be difficult because water makes swinging a hammer less effective than on the surface; a pry bar or geological pick can be used in existing fractures or can be driven against an outcrop with better effect. Explosives may be practical in some cases but must be used with extreme care (see Section 10.9). Pneumatic, electric, or hydraulic drills are available for underwater work (see Section 10.6). Macintyre (1975, 1978) describes a hydraulically powered, diver-operated drill used in water depths up to 49 ft. (15 m). The drill consists of a Stanley® hydraulic impact wrench (modified for consistent rotation) that is powered by a hydraulic pump on the surface. The drill rotates at a maximum of 600 rpm and provides sufficient torque to core under any reasonable conditions. The unit will recover cores

Block diagram illustrating dip and strike. Direction of dip due east, shown by arrow; amount of dip, angle abc. Notice that arrow extends horizontally as it would if placed flat on a map. Direction of strike is north-south, shown by cross-arm of symbol; it represents a horizontal or level line drawn on inclined bedding plane.

FIGURE 9.28 Dip and Strike of Rock Bed

FIGURE 9.29 Measuring Dip (Inclination) of a Rock Outcrop

Procedures for Scientific Dives



Drill and Attachment


X Ray of Core

FIGURE 9.31 Pneumatic Hand Drill (1985) were able to core horizontally into the reef face in water depths of 98 ft. (30 m). On such deep operations, bottom time is usually the limitation. In addition to tending the normal operation of the drill, a diver is needed to monitor the progress of the coring and to note anything that would be useful in logging the core at the surface. A submersible drilling frame can solve some of these problems when divers are working in deeper water. Adjustable legs allow deployment on an irregular, sloping bottom. The frame securely holds the drill in place, while a lift bag can be used either to place pressure on the drill or to lift it out of the hole. By using a video camera, the drill can be monitored remotely, and divers are needed only to set up and recover the cores. The hydraulic drill is also useful in obtaining shorter samples through large coral heads for the purpose of examining internal growth bands. A larger diameter, singlewalled barrel is fitted to the same drill and is used to remove a plug from the coral colony. Because this method is meant to be non-destructive, great care must be taken not to damage the surrounding colony. Some researchers have inserted a concrete plug into the hole they have drilled to promote overgrowth of the colony by algae. The drill (see Figure 9.31A), which can operate at about 100 psi (7 kg/cm2), is attached to a neoprene hose that is fitted to the low-pressure port of the first stage of a regulator, that is attached to a standard scuba cylinder. The drill bit is designed so that the core sample is forced up into the middle of a core barrel attached to the bit. This barrel, in turn, is designed to retain the core sample when the barrel is removed from the bit (see Figure 9.31B). The barrels containing the sample can be removed, and new barrels can

FIGURE 9.30 Coring in a Deep Reef Environment with a Hydraulic Drill roughly 2 – 3.5 inches (5 – 9 cm) in diameter, using a doublewalled core barrel. Such drilling operations are used to study the geological record of reef accumulation preserved in the subsurface of coral reefs (Macintyre and Glynn 1976). Macintyre’s original unit was powered by a Triumph 4-cylinder industrial motor, which limited the type of surface vessel used for support. Smaller units have been designed that utilize 5 –10 hp motors. The result is a more portable unit, weighing about 350 lbs. (159 kg) that can be operated from a small boat. Although this approach reduces the flow rate over that of Macintyre’s original design, cores over 82 ft. (25 m) in length have been retrieved with these newer systems (Halley et al. 1977; Hudson 1977; Macintyre et al. 1981; Shinn et al. 1977; Marshall and Davies 1982; Hubbard et al. 1985). For use in water less than 6.6 ft. (2 m) deep or on exposed reefs, a tripod is required to support the drill (see Figure 9.30). In deeper water, a tripod is best used for control of the drilling operation. Using the habitat Hydrolab in the U.S. Virgin Islands as a base, Hubbard and his coworkers


NOAA Diving Manual

be attached by the diver under water. The best cores can be obtained by running the drill at its maximum speed, with maximum pressure on the bit to make the hole quickly. When the full penetration of the bit is completed, a slight rocking motion of the bit in the hole will break the core free and permit it to be removed from the hole. Complete unfractured cores 0.39 inch (1 cm) in diameter and up to 33.5 inches (85 cm) long have been obtained with this method. A single 72 ft3 (2 m3) scuba cylinder is sufficient to drill four holes in the coral Montastrea annularis at depths up to 23 ft. (7 m). Because this equipment is not designed for use in salt water, extra care must be taken after use to rinse and clean it to avoid corrosion. Sampling unconsolidated sediment generally is easier than sampling solid rock, but it may also present problems. The collection technique used depends on the purpose of the study. For example, if samples are collected for compositional or textural analysis, the primary concern is to obtain material representative of a larger entity. On the other hand, if internal structure or engineering properties are the goal, the sample should be as undisturbed as possible (see Section 9.10.2). Collecting a representative sample creates a number of problems that must be resolved. For example, how deep below the surface should the sampler penetrate? The sediment beneath the seafloor may have been deposited under conditions markedly different from those producing the surface sediment; if so, its character will differ accordingly. How does one sample a sediment containing interlayered sand and mud? How large a sample is required to be representative of a specific particulate trace component, such as placer gold, without biasing the sample by the loss of some component, such as the finest or densest material? Many of these questions have been addressed in conjunction with subaerial sampling, and the techniques employed in this form of sampling are applicable to underwater sampling as well (Clifton et al. 1971). Surficial samples taken with a small core tube circumvent many sampling problems and permit a highly consistent collection program. Plastic core tubes several centimeters in diameter with walls a millimeter or so thick are ideal and inexpensive. Cut into short tubes several centimeters long, they can be numbered and have rings drawn (or cut) on them 0.39 – 0.78 inch (1 – 2 cm) from the base and top (depending on the thickness of the sediment to be cored). Two plastic caps for each tube complete the assembly. The tubes are carried uncapped by the diver to the collection site. A tube is pushed into the sediment until the ring on the side coincides with the sediment surface, and a cap is placed carefully over the top of the tube. Its number is recorded, along with a description of the sample location. A trowel or rigid plate is slipped under the base of the tube, and the tube is then removed from the sediment and inverted. The second cap is placed on the base, and both caps are secured. This simple arrangement can be improved by adding a removable one-way valve to the top end and a

removable core catcher to the bottom. These items allow the diver to insert and remove the core without capping it. Capping is done at a convenient time, and the end pieces are then transferred to another tube for reuse. An inexpensive alternative to a core tube is to cut one end off a 50-cc disposable syringe and to use it as a small piston core. The sampler is pushed into the sediment while the syringe plunger is being withdrawn slowly to keep the sampler at the sediment surface. The plunger provides enough suction to permit the small sampler to be removed quickly from the bottom without losing any sediment. The sample can then be extruded into a sample bag, or it can be kept in the core tube by capping the tube with a small rubber stopper. Undisturbed samples of seafloor sediment are valuable for identifying internal structures, such as stratification or faunal burrows, and for making measurements of certain engineering properties. Compared with the brief view of the seafloor possible during a single dive, analysis of these structures provides a broader perspective on processes through time. Internal stratification, considered in light of sediment texture, can be used to infer the strength of prevailing currents during the time of deposition. The orientation of cross-stratification indicates the direction of the stronger currents in the system and may indicate the direction of sediment transport. The degree to which mixing by faunal burrowing disrupts these structures is indicative of the rate of production or stratification, which in turn reflects the rate of the occurrence of physical processes and/or the rate of sedimentation. Internal structures of modern seafloor sediment also provide a basis for interpreting ancient sedimentary environments. Direct comparison of depositional features in a rock outcrop with those in an individual core may be difficult because of the limited view permitted by a core. This problem can be overcome, to a degree, by taking oriented cores in an aligned series, which yields a cross section that is comparable with that in the outcrop. The collection of undisturbed samples from the seafloor requires special coring techniques. Diver-operated box cores have been used successfully to core the upper 3.9 – 7.8 inches (10 – 20 cm). Cans or similar containers from which the bottoms have been removed are useful in muddy sediments. With their tops off, they can be pushed easily into the mud until the top is at the sediment surface level (the surface layer can be lost if the container is pushed below the sediment surface). The opening at the top of the container is sealed by a screw cap or stopper after the can is emplaced in the sediment, and the sediment remains intact as the core is withdrawn. A wedgeshaped or spade corer permits the taking of somewhat larger surficial cores. Cores can be taken in sandy sediment with a variety of devices, ranging in design from very simple to quite complex. Cores more than 6.6 ft. (2 m) long can be taken by driving thin-walled tubing several centimeters in diameter into the sediment. A simple apparatus consists of a

Procedures for Scientific Dives


removable collar that can be attached firmly to a 3 inch (7.6 cm) diameter thin-walled irrigation pipe. A pounding sleeve consisting of a 3-inch (7.6 cm) inside diameter pipe with two pipe handles welded to it is slipped over the irrigation pipe above the collar. By forcefully sliding the pounding sleeve down onto the collar, a 3.3 – 6.6 ft. (1 – 2 m) core can be taken (the core tube must be long enough to allow for the core and enough pipe above the collar to slide the pounding sleeve). Adding a removable piston attached to a stationary pole so that the piston remains at the sediment surface during coring can increase the penetration of this apparatus to several meters. Scientists have constructed a coring apparatus that used a hydraulic jack hammer. The jack hammer is attached to one end of a section of 3 inch (7.6 cm) diameter aluminum irrigation tubing cut into the necessary lengths. The attaching device is a slip-fit made by press-fitting a collar to a standard jack hammer chisel shaft. Slits are also cut into the upper six inches (15.2 cm) of the core tube to allow for the escape of water (Shinn et al. 1982). During operation, the entire device is suspended in the water with an air bag or air-filled plastic garbage can. Holding the core pipe in a vertical position, the diver releases air from the air bag and descends slowly until the tube makes contact with the bottom. After ascertaining that the core tube is oriented vertically, the trigger is pressed and the tube is jack-hammered into the bottom. Generally, 19.7 ft. (6 m) of penetration is attained in about 30 seconds. Experience has shown that loss due to compaction is less than ten percent. Cores up to 29.5 ft. (9 m) in length have been obtained using this method. A different type of apparatus used for underwater coring is the vibracore, which relies on high-frequency vibrations rather than pounding to push the core tube through the sediments. The core tube is driven as deeply into the bottom as possible and is then extracted; during extraction, the vibration source is turned off. Several excellent but costly commercial units are available; a less-expensive unit can be constructed by attaching a simple concrete vibrator to the top of a 3-inch (7.6 cm) piece of irrigation pipe. This method works most efficiently in mud-rich deposits and peat (Macintyre et al. 1995). The unit can be powered by a small motor located in the support boat; cores 32.8 ft. (10 m) long have been taken with this type of unit. Subaqueous cores are saturated with water when they are removed from the bottom and must be handled carefully to avoid destroying them. For example, unless great care is taken, the sediment may be washed from the corer as it is removed from the water, or liquefied by excessive agitation, or it will collapse during removal from the corer. The careful geologist avoids these frustrations by planning core retrieval and transport as an integral part of the coring system. Divers can collect other types of geological samples. For example, gas escaping from seafloor seeps may be collected more easily by a diver/scientist operating at the

seafloor site than by scientists working from a surface craft. Hydrocarbons in the sediment can be analyzed with greater precision when the samples have been taken by divers. These containers can be sealed immediately after sterilization, or opened under water, and then resealed with the sample inside before being returned to the surface. 9.10.3 Testing In the context of this section, testing means determining some variable of the sediment in situ that cannot be identified accurately on the surface from a sample of the same sediment. For example, Dill and Moore (1965) modified a commercial torque screwdriver by adding a specially designed vane to the shaft. The vane was inserted carefully into the sediment, and torque was slowly and constantly increased until sediment failure occurred. From this simple test, these authors were able to determine the maximum shear strength of surface sediments. They also measured the “residual strength” of the sediment by continuing to twist the dial after initial shear occurred (see Figure 9.32). Use of this equipment generally is restricted to currentless locales because the diver has to remain motionless during the test to operate the apparatus correctly and accurately. 9.10.4 Experimentation The underwater environment is a superb natural laboratory, and diving permits the geologist to study a number of processes in real-time experiments. Most studies of this type begin with a careful characterization of the study area, followed by an experiment (usually carried out over an extended period of time) designed to explore the interrelationships among geological, biological, physical, and chemical processes. The experimental technique may be simple or sophisticated, depending on the nature of the phenomenon studied and the resources of the experimenters. Repeated observations at a selected site can produce much information on processes, such as bed-form migration or bed erosion and deposition. When visibility permits, real-time video, cinephotography, or time-lapse photography produces a permanent record of an ongoing process that can later be analyzed in great detail. Monitoring a site with sophisticated sensors can, for instance, yield quantitative information on the interaction of pertinent physical and geological variables. Since many experimental studies in nature involve making serial observations of the same site, the experimental site may have to be reoccupied to continue the study or to service equipment. Relocating the site can be difficult and must be planned ahead of time. A buoy, stake, or prominent subaqueous landmark may suffice in clear, quiet water, while more sophisticated equipment such as sonic pingers (see Chapter 5) may be needed under adverse conditions. Surface buoys tend to arouse the curiosity of recreational boaters, who may tamper with or even remove


NOAA Diving Manual

FIGURE 9.32 Taking a Vane Shear Measurement them, and landmarks are seldom close enough to the actual site to be useful, especially when visibility is poor. Placing stakes at the actual site must be done carefully so as not to alter the current flow enough to compromise experimental results. GPS provides accurate coordinates for site relocation up to 10 meters under optimum conditions. Some experiments involve the emplacement of unattended sensors that monitor conditions at specific times or whenever certain events occur. The data from such sensors are either recorded in situ or transmitted by cable or radio to a recording station. Relocation is necessary to maintain or recover the equipment used in such experiments. Characterization studies will continue to be the mainstay of underwater geological research because most of them can be completed without elaborate equipment. In situ experimental studies, however, have become increasingly important as more geologists have discovered the advantages they offer in answering fundamental questions about the geological environment.

environments, but they are also performed in deeper environments. Divers have also been used to take readings from diver-operated instruments in situ, such as light meters or fluorometers (Dunton and Schell 1986; Mazel 1997), to measure water motion using a variety of methods (Muus 1968; Foster et al. 1985; Airoldi and Cenelli 1997), document flow patterns revealed by dye tracers (Woods and Lythgoe 1971), to take water or CTD samples at precise locations (Bozanic 1993), to study internal waves (Leichter et al. 1996) and the formation of bubbles in sound attenuation (LaFond and Dill 1957). A description of how scuba is used in physical oceanography is provided in this section. It should be noted however, that because of the nature of this marine science discipline, diving has limited application for a number of reasons. Many physical oceanographers are interested in large-scale patterns and processes. These “blue water” scientists usually obtain their data through shipboard deployment of instruments or instrument arrays in deep water, or through attachment of instruments to manned submersibles or remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs). Even for those working in shallow estuarine and coastal areas, the use of scuba for making in situ measurements is generally impractical because the time scales over which most studies are conducted are usually much longer than divers can stay in the water. Scientists researching micro-scale processes, such as flow dynamics and turbulent cells, often conduct their studies under carefully controlled laboratory conditions (in water tunnels or flumes). However, divers can and do play important roles in the data collection process in physical oceanography. 9.11.1 Deployment, Inspection, Maintenance, and Recovery of Instruments The emplacement, inspection, maintenance, and recovery of recording instruments and instrument arrays and the recovery of data in situ are jobs often performed by divers in support of oceanographic studies. Important physical parameters measured by various types of oceanographic instruments include current speed and direction, wave motions, temperature, conductivity, salinity, pressure, dissolved oxygen, light, fluorescence and sound. A description of oceanographic instrumentation is reviewed by Heine (1999). Diving is usually the most practical and cost-effective method for surveying potential study sites to ensure their suitability for instrument deployment. Precise site selection is critical in most studies. Divers must take into account location, substrate, depth, and the exposure of instruments to a variety of environmental factors such as waves and surge, currents, sediment deposition, bio-fouling, ice and boat traffic. For example, scientists usually prefer to moor current meters on or over flat bottoms, well away from underwater obstructions (e.g., reefs or shoals) that disrupt the local flow field. During the deployment and recovery phases, proper assembly or disassembly of the various instrument mooring types (tautline, bottom-mounted) is

Diving plays a critical role in the data collection process in a variety of physical oceanography studies. Certainly, the most important jobs performed by divers in oceanographic surveys are the deployment, inspection, maintenance and recovery of oceanographic instruments and instrument arrays. These tasks are most often conducted in shallow estuarine or coastal areas, and oil rigs are mostly shallow or in near-surface open-ocean

Procedures for Scientific Dives


FIGURE 9.34 Current Meter FIGURE 9.33 Deploying an Instrument Inside PVC Housing often best conducted underwater by divers (see Figure 9.33). Because most oceanographic instruments contain relatively fragile electronic components, divers are deployed to carefully attach and detach them from their moorings to prevent damage or loss that might occur if the instruments were deployed or recovered while coupled with their moorings (see Figure 9.34). Instruments and moorings often become fouled, and sometimes damaged, by marine growth, movement of sediment or bottom debris. Corrosion and electrolysis also can be problematic, especially in marine environments. Divers are indispensable for inspection and cleaning of instruments and moorings in situ (see Figure 9.35). Inspections are not only important for assessing the condition of equipment, but also to confirm that instruments are properly positioned on the bottom or at certain levels in the water column. Some state-of-the-art equipment can be downloaded in situ by divers who run a cable to the instrument from a shipboard computer. Of course, to inspect, clean, or recover instruments, scientists must first be able to find them. The most important aspect of the relocation process occurs during the deployment phase when scientists should take the proper steps to pinpoint the location of instruments being deployed as precisely as possible. The Global Positioning System (GPS), the sextant, and the use of range lines in nearshore regions are invaluable tools and procedures with which to facilitate this process. Once in the immediate

FIGURE 9.35 Current Meter and Mooring


NOAA Diving Manual

vicinity of the mooring site during the maintenance or recovery phases, divers can relocate the instrument underwater by employing any number of search-and-recovery techniques (see Chapter 10). Circular search patterns have been found to be particularly effective in relocating moorings. Alternately, divers can use portable underwater acoustic receivers to home-in on pinger transponders attached to the moorings or instruments. 9.11.2 In Situ Sampling of Currents and Waves by Divers In addition to deploying, maintaining and recovering recording instruments, divers can collect physical data underwater using a variety of techniques and devices. One of the first methods used to study currents on a small scale involved dye tracers (LaFond 1962; Zhukov et al. 1964). Water masses tagged with fluorescein dye can be tracked, timed and photographed or videographed to provide an accurate measurement of current speed and direction (see Figure 9.36). One advantage of using dye to measure current speed is that accurate measurements can be made at speeds slower than many current meters can resolve. Dyes are also ideal for investigating the turbulence occurring in various layers of the water column and can be used to study internal waves. This technique is particularly effective for characterizing turbulence within a thermocline. Woods and Lythgoe (1971) provide details of dye tracer methodology. The most important note of caution when conducting dye studies is the influence of diver motions on water column disturbance, particularly the creation of artificial vortices by finning. Measurements of general water motion can be taken by using various diver-deployed/diver-monitored devices. Most of these techniques involve measuring the dissolution of some type of water-soluble material such as plaster of Paris (Muus 1968; Doty 1971), alabaster (Genovese and Witman 1997), or gypsum (Airoldi and Cinelli 1997). The dissolution of a given material, initially formed into spheres, slabs, or clods, is measured by weight loss or dimension reduction and then translated into water motion. Others researchers have used mechanical devices to measure wave motions or currents, including a shear-force dynamometer that records the magnitude and direction of the maximum force imposed on individual organisms by rapid water flow (Denny 1983). This diver-deployed device is described as rugged, simple to build, inexpensive and requires no external power. Foster et al. (1985) describe a method that divers can use to measure surge using a modified protractor and a buoyant tethered sphere. Heine (1999) reviewed these and other mechanical methods for measuring currents and water motion under water by divers. 9.11.3 Water Samples The collection of water samples for determination of salinity, dissolved oxygen, dissolved nutrients, etc., is more often conducted using a variety of ship-operated samplers. Shipboard personnel can usually position and trigger these

FIGURE 9.36 Dye-Tagged Water Moved by the Bottom Current devices to obtain samples at the desired locations. However, divers are sometimes employed to collect discrete samples at more precise locations. Bulk water samples can be obtained by swirling large plastic bags through the water until filled, sealing their mouths, and carrying them to the surface. Because large water samples are heavy, the bags should be put into rigid containers under water before lifting the samples onto the vessel. Smaller water samples can be obtained with more precision using a small plastic containers (e.g., soda bottle). If the desired sample is taken below approximately 20 meters, the air-filled container will compress and deform, but when opened at the desired depth the plastic can usually be manipulated by hand into its original shape. For deeper samples, the plastic container should be filled with surface water, then pumped out of the container by squeezing its sides at the desired sampling depth. Divers also have used glass jars with a two hole stopper, one hole of which is fitted with a flexible sampling tube. At the desired depth, the diver inverts the unstopped jar, purges it with air, and then inserts the stopper. The jar is then righted and, as the air bubbles out of the open hole of the stopper, the diver manipulates the sampling tube to vacuum the water sample into the jar. After evacuating all the air, the diver seals the jar by inserting the tip of the sampling tube into the open hole of the stopper or by replacing the stopper with a cap. It is difficult to obtain accurate measurements of dissolved oxygen in seawater because the changes in pressure to which a sample of seawater is subjected as it is brought to the surface affect the chemical nature of the solution. Liquids and solids are relatively insensitive to pressure effects, but dissolved gases are sensitive to pressure changes.

Procedures for Scientific Dives


and Green (1990). current meters. Comprehensive treatment of underwater archeology is provided by Delgado (1997). and instruments for measuring depth. Using these state-of-the-art devices. underwater archeological research is carried out by universities. The effects of internal tidal bores on temperature.Diver-operated instruments that can quantify the spectral reflectance and fluorescence excitation-emission spectrum of benthic organisms and substrates have recently been developed (Ackleson 1996. whether they are found under water or preserved in sand dunes or corn fields near shifting river beds. redox potential temperature and depth is mounted between double cylinders on a diver’s back (Bozanic 1993). Data were obtained by reading the instruments in situ and/or by remote display inside the habitat. 1990). Dean (1985) used divers to read digital counters associated with integrating quantum meters that measure photon flux densities. 1998). 1996. divers can measure the fluorescence emitted by an object as discrete as a single coral polyp.4 Undersea Laboratories Undersea laboratories have been of some advantage in experimental studies requiring the use of many instruments and dives of long duration. conductivity. Vertical turbulence can occur through the action of a diver’s exhalation bubbles. Since 1987. Water samples or CTD readings should be taken well away and upstream of all bubble activity. some models are portable enough to be handled by divers. The instrument recorded photosynthetically active radiation from 400 – 700 m. and pH using a tautline buoy array. It should be noted that when taking measurements or samples in the water column. horizontal and vertical turbulence is created by a diver’s finning motions.11. view the data being recorded. Instantaneous measurements of in situ illuminance have been made using an underwater photometer to obtain total illumination in foot-candles (Dunton and Schell 1986). store or discard the data. 9-32 NOAA Diving Manual . Presently. dissolved oxygen. Mazel 1997). dissolved oxygen.37 Custom Dissolved Oxygen Water Sampler Cratin et al. but such activities are not within the scope of this discussion. Divers set up thermometers. However. Materials have been salvaged from the depths since antiquity for non-scientific purposes and continue to be today. They demand research designs and strategies peculiar to their special nature as archeological and anthropological entities. Conductivity. the Aquarius undersea habitat has been active in conducting scientific studies. care should be taken to minimize the amount of activity around study sites to avoid unnecessary mixing of the water column. constructed of polyvinylchloride (PVC). Gould (1983). A steep increase in activity took place after World War II. Shipwrecks occupy a special niche in archeology. The objective was to evaluate a continuously deployed shallow-water current and hydrographic monitoring system. (1973) describe a portable. and state and federal agencies. FIGURE 9. Leichter et al. Temperature. when the advent of scuba gear enabled terrestrial archeologists access to sites formerly beyond their reach. Johnson and Sebens 1993).37). and inexpensive sampler. A more sophisticated device that measures salinity. temperature. then descend the buoy line to read the remaining instruments. the procedure was to approach the top thermometer at an angle. Richardson and Carlton (1993) described a diver-operated irradiance meter that they used in a number of studies. pressure gauges for tidal measurements. conductivity. CTD measurements are usually obtained by deploying the instrument from a ship. Light and Fluorescence Discrete sampling of light and fluorescence can be obtained using diver-carried/diver-operated instruments. This procedure prevented the aquanaut’s exhalation bubbles from disrupting the thermal structure. and Depth (CTD) As with water samples. or change the instrument settings. When reading a vertical array of thermometers. which circumvents this problem (see Figure 9. A similar type of irradiance meter has been used to make spot measurements of light penetration at various levels in the water column (Gittings et al. salinity and water velocities have been described from data collected through saturation missions from Aquarius (Leichter et al. salinity. read and record it.12 ARCHEOLOGY Diving for the purpose of studying the past has roots back to the early part of the twentieth century. Other physical data collected from the undersea lab have been used in support of biological studies of the ocean (Sebens and Johnson 1991. 9. versatile. all while under water. A diver-managed oceanographic instrumentation program was carried out during a Hydrolab underwater habitat mission (Schroeder 1975). 9.

such as prehistoric sites in reservoirs or sinkholes and caves. either above the substrate or within easy probing depth (up to a meter). what is to be gained from the disturbance and what methods and techniques are to be employed.” “maritime. archeological research begins with formulation of a research design. (Muckelroy 1978.Typically. FIGURE 9. Typically. the compass will indicate when the full circle is completed. They must establish a search area that will cover the zone of the magnetometer or side-scan sonar contact and identify anything man-made in the area. usually by using differential GPS units and coordinates provided by the survey director. There is often confusion over the use of the terms “underwater. Generally. They are expected to be able to reacquire remote-sensing targets. and are available in any weather conditions. is taking place. Typically. but the term “underwater archeology” will be used here because it is most inclusive. which involves invasive techniques. and full site excavations. One notes the needle position at the beginning of the sweep and stops when the needle reaches or just passes the same point during the swim. and because of the specialized material culture associated with them. demand the attention of maritime archeological specialists. a qualified underwater archeologist. and a compass. Sample analysis and artifact conservation must be in place prior to recovering any archeological materials. Some divers reverse course on each Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-33 . In the case of any disturbance to archeological remains. However.1 Site Location Broad-area survey for underwater archeological sites in marine environments usually involves systematic coverage with accurately positioned remote-sensing instruments (see Figure 9. The decision can then be made to extend the line and repeat the process. 1980). or under the supervision of. and the level of desired coverage. The role of the diver in this phase is limited to groundtruthing through the visual confirmation of materials above the substrate and their first-level documentation. For the diver.12. the underwater archeological process is divided into several stages that involve field work.38). Primary instruments used are the magnetometer (locates ferrous remains) and the side-scan sonar (images the seabed and objects above the seabed). due to their often discrete nature temporally and spatially. Divers must be closely supervised by a qualified archeologist. All are valid terms for different aspects of the discipline. partial site excavations. The former indicates the intent to survey a block of submerged bottoms with the purpose of identifying and evaluating all significant cultural remains. and the testing phase. Most underwater remote sensing carried out by resource management agencies is for the purpose of survey rather than search. Even when visibility precludes seeing the anchor point. It requires only an anchor point ( preferably from a swivel linked to a stationary pole two meters off the bottom). students and other support personnel taught to the level that they can confidently discriminate between cultural and natural remains in a given environment can carry out this task. Shipwrecks. Marine or treasure salvage are not scientific enterprises and should not be confused with archeology. A search is directed toward finding a particular site. which includes location and non-invasive documentation of sites. the investigator must be clear about why the disturbance. Differentially-corrected Global Positioning System (DGPS) is usually the positioning system of choice for hydrographic surveys that require realtime positioning and high repeatability. Simple 360-degree circle searches from the center point of anomaly or contact as specified by the survey officer is a commonly used technique to examine an area. archeology conducted on inundated sites of former human activity. anticipated target size. a line. 9. There is the inventory and evaluation phase.38 Remote Sensing Remote-sensing survey parameters vary with instrument resolution. Self-contained hand-held videos are often used to document what is found at any particular location. Accuracy depends upon the equipment and the nature of the corrections. DGPS accuracies vary from 1-10 m. transect spacing for magnetometer surveys for historical wrecks varies from ten meters in rivers to 30 – 50 m in marine environments.” a design that incorporates specific questions and research domains and methodologies to address them provides a guiding framework that can be both efficient and effective in systematic archeological data recovery. simply involves an extension of land methodology to the underwater realm. archeological survey requirements are on the order of a 2-3 m circle of error.” and “marine” archeology.” “nautical. The images can then be reviewed by an archeologist who may return to the feature to further evaluate archeological significance. Because it is not possible to collect “all the data. this translates to a series of procedures and specific techniques carried out by. The compass is the best means of determining when a full circle has been completed.

labeling set distances of 10 or 20-ft.12.sweep to undo possible hang-ups on the bottom. Once a scaled drawing of the baseline is transferred to paper. submersibles. down one side. although the latter are often included in archeological site maps. 9. This is a variation on triangulation techniques discussed elsewhere in this volume. and may include additional baselines to cover widely scattered wreckage fields.1. Perhaps the most directly applicable technique to archeological mapping is baseline trilateration.2 Site Documentation Usually these phases of the operation are (mapping. and sampling) diver-intensive.10. because that is usually the numeric system used in building the ship. increments. FIGURE 9. The procedure has been used successfully on comparatively intact portions of a wooden ship hull covering less than 30 m2 of bottom and scattered wreckage that stretch more than a quarter of a mile. A detailed discussion of its application to large shipwrecks in the Great Lakes can be found in “Shipwrecks of Isle Royale National Park” (Lenihan 1994). whereas changing directions could mask this problem. The only substitute is remote-operated vehicles. others continue in the same direction. From this point. The line is measured and marked after being stretched on the bottom to avoid distortion from stretching a pre-marked line (see Figure 9. the metric system is frequently chosen by the archeologist.40). videography. On the underwater remains of some sites.40 Baseline Mapping 9-34 NOAA Diving Manual . Mapping There is a good discussion of general mapping techniques in Section 9. Note that archeologists tend to use feet and inches on shipwreck sites. photography. Their philosophy is that they will be able to ascertain if there has been an object impeding the search line when they reel back to the object. The size of the site is irrelevant. Greatest accuracy is achieved when the section of baseline between the two chosen measuring points and the distance to each feature come as close as possible to forming an equilateral triangle. the process consists simply of measuring the distance to features of importance on the bottom from any two (or more) points on the baseline. Baseline trilateration (see Figure 9. The technique is taught in modified form by the Nautical Archeological Society ( NAS) and described in their popular handbook ( Dean et al.39) is a simple procedure that starts with a straight line being introduced into a concentration of shipwreck remains. One diver labels items to be mapped in and a team of support personnel measure the line itself.39 Baseline Trilateration FIGURE 9. it becomes the backbone for all cultural material or natural features added to the map. Archeological mapping often demands a higher degree of accuracy simply because the features being mapped are usually smaller than geological landscapes. This may be through the middle of the assemblage. or in certain cases. 1992).

Video is less expensive and easier to FIGURE 9. and has a longer run time. The very ease of use sometimes results in overuse without proper controls. The costs associated with the use of underwater video are about the same as 35 mm still photography. One way of increasing the value of video recording is to have the archeologist or technician use a full face-mask with a direct hard-wire link to the camera. The chief problem that archeologists face in effectively using video for site documentation is the lack of adequate point of reference controls.5 is adequate.1. For most applications.5 provide a reasonable depth of field with this particular lens. but their use requires more maintenance and technical skills. If housed cameras or strobes are used. f-4. The video format is also far less complicated than film (still or motion picture). there must be some form of identification (a mug board) and a scale in the picture. A Nikonos with a 15–20 mm wide angle lens is ideal for archeological documentation. which has proved very valuable. an individual with photographic expertise must dedicate considerable energies to the photographic documentation phase of the project. Housed cameras also work well. Use of film requires a higher level of expertise to obtain consistently good results..2. An advantage of this system is that the error of each measurement can be determined and minimized mathematically. A diver with little or no experience can get good. which translates to a large field of focus. decreasing confusion about where images are being acquired.41 Photographic Documentation use than 16 mm motion picture film. but special considerations arise for underwater archeology. If forced to use a longer focal length. and z coordinate for all points. Videography The underwater environment is perfectly suited for the use of video format. This also allows an informal type of audio notetaking.41). This allows narration to be recorded directly on the tape. multiple tapes are used from survey datums to provide an x.42). usable images with video (see Figure 9. but it adds another level of complexity to the process. a color-correcting filter (e. However. It has diffuse lighting with low contrast.Another somewhat more sophisticated mapping system that was developed in 1980 for the Mary Rose excavation is the Direct Survey Method ( DSM). Stops as low as f-4. it is critical to have a point of reference in the photograph so that the image can be oriented to other forms of documentation. y. A computer program has been developed to facilitate “best fit” computations. that generates three-dimensional positions (Rule 1989).2. If strobes are not used for shooting transparency films. dependable results. such as maps (see Figure 9. The most effective and user-friendly tool kit for archeological photography performed by scientists or technicians is an underwater 35 mm camera with the widest-angle lens available. In this system. However. CC30R) over the lens should be used. the proper recording of the provenience of images is critical. Photography Underwater photographic surveys for general purposes are discussed in Section 9. For video to be used to its full advantage. The still frames that can be taken from digital video are adequate for most uses. An ISO film speed should be used that will allow shooting at f-stops of f-8 to f-16 under the light conditions on the site. then 35 mm or medium-format stills are required.g. time-tested method. When artifacts are photographed. Using a strobe often provides the best results. it must be obtained in a systematic manner and be tightly referenced to a sketch or map of the site. If one of the ultra-wide lenses is used. Underwater documentation of archeological sites with still photographs is an effective. especially the Nikonos 15 mm. lower-cost digital video will provide consistent. Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-35 . if high resolution is needed for large magnifications or high-quality reproduction and the project cannot afford the HD digital video. pick a film speed that will keep the f-stop at f-8 or above. Whether shooting over wide areas or smaller features. The ultra-wideangle lens gives a tremendous depth of field.

Some degree of destruction is inevitable.43) are pulse-induction instruments that can locate both ferrous and non-ferrous materials. it is important to exhaust noninvasive measures. but their careless operation around divers can substantially interfere with operations. deeply FIGURE 9. the towfish can be floated and systematically maneuvered around the site’s surface by a swimmer using buoys and directions from a spotter on the boat. which detects ferrous objects by the disturbance they cause in the earth’s magnetic field. A third method is use of specially designed hand-held magnetometers. Metal-detecting surveys are often conducted in conjunction with intra-site magnetometer surveys to differentiate large-mass.12. This stage of the archeological process must be conducted under direct control of a qualified archeologist and should follow completion of a rigorous nondestructive investigation. but any time an instrument utilizes AC from surface generators.3 Site Testing Archeological sites under water may be tested using minimally invasive techniques to determine the nature and significance of the resource. giving archeologists an idea Metal Detecting Metal detectors (see Figure 9. One may dig to contact materials that are diagnostic. Intra-site magnetometry can be done in several ways. so archeological standards require that the disruption of intact site materials is minimal and justified by returns in knowledge. For deeper sites. giving saturation-coverage. or the diver maneuvering the towfish can be tracked using a sophisticated sonar-based diver tracking system. The only relevance they have to diving operations is that they can prove to be either a hazard or a safety factor depending on how they are used. divers should be aware of the potential risk. and determine depth and stability of cultural deposits. Their range is much more limited than a magnetometer. 9. Several techniques are used for this purpose. Hand-held Magnetometer Before invasive techniques are used in archeological site testing. Another method is to employ a diver-held magnetometer. the magnetometer can be moved to set points on an established grid. FIGURE 9.of where to focus more invasive testing methods to achieve maximum results. underwater archeologists have increasingly relied on ROVs.42 Video Documentation Remote-Operated Vehicles (ROV) In some situations involving deep water or other environmental constraints. Electrical shock to the diver is unlikely because most ROVs employ sophisticated grounding systems. For shallow sites. high-resolution passes over a site. Intra-site magnetometry can define the boundaries of sediment-covered sites and indicate concentrations of ferrous material within an area. remove samples of cultural material or sediment matrix of the site. They may prove useful for monitoring the safety of dive teams and for bringing them tools from the surface. A traditional vessel-towed magnetometer can be used in multiple.43 Metal Detecting 9-36 NOAA Diving Manual .

Trenches can be useful in areas of deeper overburden that make sediment removal difficult. Probes can be anything from a simple iron rod to tubular probes that are pumped with air or water to enable the probe to penetrate greater depths. Annotation of depth reached at contact point also determines the amount of overburden on site. either using a set grid over the site or a circle-search pattern. the excavation of La Belle recently by the Texas Antiquities Committee is a noteworthy exception. Smaller airlifts can allow careful excavation after removal of sediment by hand fanning. There are times. large airlifts can decimate archeological sediments. natural environmental variables. size and density of material being lifted and height of discharge. and they require extremely large budgets to ensure preservation and display in perpetuity. Entire shipwrecks are enormously difficult to preserve once removed from a stable environment.45) use water injected through a venturi tube or orifice to create a suction to draw water and sediments into the mouth of the device.buried ferrous materials found by magnetometer from smaller targets located by metal detecting. Surface screening. Airlift sizes range from 8 – 60 cm or more in diameter.12. air pressure and volume. Test pits are useful for determining the origin of metal-detector or magnetometer anomalies and for establishing the depth of overburden above the cultural layer necessary for excavation planning. If not carefully controlled. desirable in some situations. Some means of horizontal displacement of sediments is usually desirable to prevent heavier sediments from falling back into the excavation. Regardless of the extent of the excavation. with air volume requirements ranging from 1. working depth. Instrument readings are plotted to indicate targets.4 Partial and Full-Site Excavation Full-site excavation is rarely opted for by responsible institutions or agencies. the disturbed area must be backfilled to minimize continued deterioration of archeological materials. There have been excellent full-site excavations of classical vessels in the Mediterranean. however. experienced operators are often able to distinguish contact with wood. when the financial and professional commitment is available to proceed. Large airlifts are for removing sterile overburden. a catch basket may be desirable for small materials missed by an excavator. Test excavations record similar data as would be recorded during a site excavation. a handle on the intake and either a reduced intake or a grid across the airlift’s mouth to prevent intake of materials that could block the airlift. directing subsequent excavation plans and/or establishing the site perimeter. samples of natural and cultural materials are collected for laboratory analysis. Efficiency factors of airlift design include diameter of the tube. Locations are selected so as to obtain maximum information on the nature and extent of archeological deposits. sedimentary matrix. location of inlet valve. trowels. and stratigraphy. which is lighter than the surrounding water. ceramic. rises in the tube. with minimum impact to those remains. brushes or other tools. Airlifts do not work well in shallow water and can be difficult to control. Injection Dredges These dredges (see Figures 9. minimally to include precise horizontal and vertical (depth below seabed or datum) provenience. 9. Metal-detecting surveys should be conducted systematically. The tendency in the United States is to engage in partial site investigations governed by a problem-oriented research design. Intake begins immediately upon injection of air. Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-37 . Air Lifts Airlifts have been used by archeologists since the 1950s. An airlift is simply a tube into the deeper end of which air (usually surface-supplied) is injected through a diver-operated valve. Typically. Test excavations can be done in either discrete pits or trenches. This method is useful for establishing site boundaries with less spoil handling than is required by wide-area excavation techniques. A trench is begun and moves along a prescribed line uncovering an area ahead while backfilling the area previously observed behind. The injected air and water mix. Probing Probe surveys can be used to determine the extent of buried sites. and large airlifts tend to bounce and dig soft sediments very rapidly. Probing surveys plot where contact was made with something other than sediment. drawing more water and sediments into the airlift’s mouth and exhausting them from the shallow end of the tube. Artifacts are often reburied in their find-locations after recording. Although no artifacts should ever be subjected to a trip through an airlift.5 to more than 12 ft3 per minute delivered at adequate over bottom pressure. is never a substitute for in situ documentation. However. as well as artifacts in situ. Refinements include an air chamber to distribute the injected air into the tube. A blocked airlift quickly becomes buoyant and presents a potential safety hazard. Test Trenches and Pits Test excavation locations are selected by the archeologist based on the cumulative data that has been generated from on-site investigations that include aspects of the environment that may affect site-formation processes (sometimes called “pre-disturbance” survey) and any historical documentation available. the following tools and techniques are most commonly used by divers engaged in such projects. but even those who advocate such excavations warn that it usually means that a 10 – 20-year commitment of the principal investigator is necessary to do the site justice.44 and 9. in either case. ferrous materials or stone. Some experimentation is usually necessary for determining the most effective combination of factors for any specific application.

There are two basic configurations of a water dredge. In addition. Divers worked the site on compressed air. Propwash Deflectors These devices consist of a right-angled tube somewhat larger than a vessel’s propeller designed to direct propwash of a moored vessel toward the bottom to displace sediments. Injection dredges. This makes trenching and backfilling much easier. which retains more of the fine sediments. High-pressure water is directed through a smaller hose connected to the tube’s angle. Cofferdams These are water-tight containments constructed around a wreck or other site to be excavated.45 Backfilling with an Injection Dredge 9-38 NOAA Diving Manual . appropriately nicknamed “blasters. under carefully controlled circumstances. are. The venturi is created by water rushing through the longer straight section of the tube. once used as primary excavation devices. in some cases (notably a shipwreck excavated in Yorktown.” while practical under some conditions for removing sterile overburden. For efficient operation. Dredges have some advantages over airlifts: they can operate in very shallow water and are more adjustable than airlifts. such as a water dredge. Depending on variables such as water depth.45 ). can be used for excavating cultural layers.44 Excavating with Injection Dredge FIGURE 9. rather than vertically. and bottom sediments. The second configuration. much like a bulldozer on a terrestrial site. currently used only for the removal of sterile overburden. their application in commercial practices as the sole excavation tool for historic shipwrecks has been generally destructive. which draws sediment into the shorter end of the angle. propwash deflectors are useful for penetrating deep. These devices. both configurations require a jet pump delivering several hundred gallons per minute at more than 100 psi. However. but without contending with currents and with much improved visibility. as with the airlift. are very effective in shallow water. FIGURE 9. Although some archeologists have used propwash deflectors productively. like airlifts. sterile sediments and for keeping a hole open so that other tools. engine speed. The most common has about a short 30-degree angle in a tube. uses a straight tube that has an adjustable orifice around the circumference of the tube. These devices. Backfilling can be accomplished simply by turning the dredge around and replacing the spoil pile in its original position (see Figure 9. dredges move material horizontally. large holes several meters across and several meters deep can be dug in just a few minutes. These allow the site to be de-watered and worked without diving apparatus. popularized by commercial treasure hunters. propeller size and pitch. Virginia) the containment acted as a stilling basin. The deflector is pivoted so that it can be removed when the vessel is underway. can quickly destroy archeological materials and contextual information. called a circle jet. However.

9. as do net length and depth. divers were able to observe fish near stationary traps 25 – 80 ft.3 x 10. with 4.600 ft. Plankton nets typify small nets both in physical size and in the lightweight web required to retain micro-organisms.2 Seines Seines are similar to gill nets in that a wall of web is held open vertically in the water by the opposing forces of a corkline and leadline. the seine is set in a circle to confine fish within the web rather than to entangle the fish (Clifton 1996). by spreading the net with a rigid wooden or metal beam. gill nets. Trawls may be opened horizontally by towing each wingtip from a separate vessel.7 m/s). webbing mesh and thread size vary. In the FLARE and Hydrolab undersea programs. Figure 9.46 Fish Trap FIGURE 9. 9.4 m) below the surface for up to eight hours per day (see Figure ANIMAL CAPTURE TECHNIQUES A wide variety of devices are used by scientists and commercial fishermen to aggregate. and methods of use. grabs. in midwater. and FIGURE 9.47 Checking a Fish Trawl Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-39 . Gill nets are designed to entangle fish attempting to push through the meshes. 9. traps.3 Trawls Trawls are nets constructed like flattened cones or wind socks typically towed by one or occasionally two vessels.13.5 knots (1. 1996).6 – 24.5 m/s). materials.4 Diving on Stationary Gear Diving on stationary gear such as traps. At the larger extreme. Divers from the National Marine Fisheries Service were also able to estimate accurately the populations of fish attracted to experimental submerged structures during studies designed to develop automated fishing platforms.47 shows a trawl diver. Divers working close to an active net (one that is being towed) can interfere with its operation. (1. in accordance with the size and species of fish sought.5 inches (11.6 ft. Specific designs and sizes vary widely. (61 m) or more down into the water.8 ft. concentrate. vest inflator mechanisms. which seals off the fish escape route. NOAA divers frequently are called upon to observe and evaluate net operation while underway. mask rims. Divers and their equipment can easily become entangled in gill net webbing. if they swim too near to it or touch it. The net may be suspended at the surface or below the surface or be weighted to fish just above bottom and across the expected path of migratory fish. and then conveying this information to equipment designers.5 ft.2 m) may filter water at three knots (0. purpose. Seines often have rings along the leadline through which a line or cable can be pulled to draw the bottom closed. (12.46) and to devise methods to alter catch rates and the species captured (High and Ellis 1973). Experienced divers can dive either inside or outside the net to observe animal behavior or to carry out work assignments. and dredges have all been evaluated and used successfully by scubaequipped scientists interested in animal and gear behavior ( Baldwin et al. or across the seafloor. (61. Gill nets use fine twine meshes hung vertically in the water between a corkline and a leadline.4 cm) long meshes stretching 200 ft. Marine scientists can help to improve the design of trawls and other such equipment by evaluating its underwater performance. and some seines presents few problems. such as valves. (3 m) long plankton net having a 1.1 Nets Nets vary in size. or confine aquatic animals.13. however.5 m) mouth opening may be towed at speeds up to 3. Any net is considered large if direct diver contact does not appreciably influence its configuration or operation.097 m) long. while a 202 ft. The net target depth may be at the surface. especially if it is small. Divers must be alert to the entanglement hazard presented by loose diving gear. or by suspending paired otterboards/trawl/doors in the water which are hydrostatically designed to shear horizontally out away from each other when towed at proper speed. (7. Trawls. which may be difficult to see in the water.6 m) long pelagic trawl with an opening 40. knives.3 x 3. (0. seines. 9. A 9. observing how animals behave in relation to the gear. high-sea tuna seines often are 3.13. depending on the species sought and vessel used. Scientific divers who will be diving near such capture systems should train under simulated conditions before participating in open-water dives (High 1993).

In connection with fish. There is a wealth of published information in the popular and scientific literature on a wide variety of chemicals and their applications. surgical intervention. locomotor activity reduced. blood sampling. and these may be transitory or sustained. Some chemicals that exhibit toxic effects during long-term exposure may be satisfactory to use for shortterm anesthesia. it is often advisable to conduct a preliminary experiment.1 are observable. opercular rate reduced. ease of application. responds to squeeze of peduncle or tail. It may be necessary for a fouled diver to remove the tank. their qualities.1. it usually follows a series of definable stages that are useful to know in evaluating the depth of the anesthesia. Fish has difficulty remaining in normal swimming position.2 Selecting an Anesthetic Factors to consider in choosing an anesthetic are purpose. which is then taken up by the gills. Fouled divers must avoid turning or spinning around when in close proximity to net webbing. A simplified scheme defining the levels of anesthesia. It may be helpful to refer to the literature to choose a suitable anesthetic for the species and purpose concerned. tagging. transport. the terms narcosis and anesthesia are often used interchangeably. not all of the stages mentioned in Table 9. Fish anesthetics have been used in conjunction with a multitude of operations. where LC50 = the concentration lethal for 50 percent of the specimens and 9-40 NOAA Diving Manual . Species-specific intolerance has been demonstrated with some anesthetics. and replace the tank assembly before continuing with the task at hand. This is the surgical level. Does not respond to peduncle squeeze. can still propel itself. Decreased reaction to visual stimuli and/or tapping on the tank.14 THE USE OF ANESTHETICS IN CAPTURING AND HANDLING FISH Anesthesia has been defined as a state of reversible insensitivity of the cell. including the species and size of fish. and photographic sessions. purpose. where recovery then proceeds. pH. A buddy diver can usually clear the entanglement more readily than the fouled diver can. disengage the caught mesh. moving fish in aquarium. It is recommended that divers carry a minimum of two knives when working around nets. including capture. tissue. salinity or hardness. With some anesthetics. swimming disrupted. since even closely related species may not respond to the same anesthetic in the same manner. 9. Operculum ceases to move. opercular rate rapid.1.1 Response to Anesthetics Fish anesthetics are administered most commonly by adding them to the water.1 Levels of Anesthesia for Fish Stage 0 1 2 Description Unanesthetized Sedation Partial loss of equilibrium Behavior Normal for the species. In the absence of applicable data. Plane 2— Locomotion ceases. through the stages shown in Table 9. opercular rate usually higher. The subsequent monitoring of an area in which anesthetics have been used must take this into account. 9. and cost. 9. fins may still move but ineffectively. although not all chemicals characterized as fish anesthetics also act as narcotics.TABLE 9. and state of excitability of the fish. as well as on the dosage and type of anesthetic. Plane 1— Fish usually on side or back. responds to tap on tank or other vibrations. cardiac arrest (death) will occur within one to several minutes unless fish revived in untreated water. and dosages. Recovery begins when the fish is removed from the anesthetic bath and transferred to untreated water. repellent action. opercular rate slow—often may be erratic. toxicity. The therapeutic ratio TR = LC50/EC is sometimes used in evaluating an anesthetic. with quinaldine there is generally no definitive sedation stage. Table 9. As the fish proceeds into anesthesia.14. The response of a particular fish to an anesthetic depends on a number of factors.2 lists some commonly used anesthetics. water temperature. opercular rate decreased. because census and other data are affected by the use of anesthetics. color usually darker. for example. Many chemicals exhibit toxic effects that are unrelated to their anesthetic action. or organism. The use of anesthetics does have an impact on the surrounding environment. artificial spawning. which will further entrap them in the web. and extreme care must be exercised to minimize this effect. 3 Total loss of equilibrium 4 5 Loss of reflex Respiratory collapse weight belt/fin buckles. usually in reverse order.14. which is devised largely from the work of McFarland (1959) and Schoettger and Julin (1967) is presented in Table 9.

) Common Use Anesthetic Qualitites Remarks References Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-41 . etc. temperature.2 Fish Anesthetics Dosage (varies with species.TABLE 9.

TABLE 9.2 Fish Anesthetics (continued) 9-42 NOAA Diving Manual .

in small caves. The toxicity of the anesthetic to humans also must be considered. have been observed in fish after anesthesia (Houston et al. or the fish may be removed to a separate bath. Recovery To revive fish in deep anesthesia. The effectiveness of the anesthetic also varies with the physical situation as well as the skill and experience of the collector. The water volume in the pool must first be estimated. For longer term surgery. short crevices. Reef and Shore Many species of reef and shore fish can be collected with anesthetics. rather than alleviate. One-half to 1. some of which may persist for more than a week.5 to 1 l ) of the solution is generally used for each collection. Before the anesthetic is administered. Steps should be taken to maintain the oxygen content near the saturation level and the ammonia concentration at the minimal level. where fishermen might catch it. its usefulness is somewhat limited. cost must be considered. One successful system employs two water baths. but since time of exposure and a variety of other factors affect the validity of the TR. and those administering anesthetics are advised to be thoroughly familiar with all pertinent regulations. they are removed to untreated water as quickly as possible. provided the exposure is of short duration. The chemical may be sprayed in the vicinity of the fish or added to a container holding the fish. For example. Several anesthetics have low solubility in water and must first be mixed with a carrier such as acetone or alcohol to increase their solubility. It is not advisable to use a strong current or to insert a hose directly into the mouth because this may cause. depending on the circumstances.EC = the concentration necessary to provide the desired level of anesthesia. The need to premix may be inconvenient. e. and the stages of anesthesia can vary with the anesthetic. Other anesthetics may initially cause an increase in activity. one containing untreated water and the other the anesthetic solution. A given anesthetic may be dangerous to handle because of its acute toxicity or carcinogenic potential. hypoxia. During this post-treatment period. Moring 1970).g. and the fish usually need to be in a situation. and diluting the pool water with incoming water will prevent the killing of specimens that are not going to be collected. 1971). Finally. It is helpful to direct a gentle stream of water toward the fish’s mouth. a TR of two or more is considered desirable. This last consideration is important in cases where the fish will later be released to the wild. Most anesthetics are at least somewhat repellent. Some species recovering from certain anesthetics may undergo violent. fish may be immobilized rapidly for capture or handling. the fish should be starved for 24 – 48 hours to prevent regurgitation of food. which provides a lowvelocity current over the gills. it is simplest to anesthetize the fish to the surgical level (Starr et al. and its head should be immersed in an anesthetic bath for the duration of the procedure. Species susceptibility is highly variable. the specific responses of fish to an anesthetic may be important. As mentioned above.. Various physiological changes. especially when large field collections are concerned. additional stress may result in mortality and should therefore be minimized. In addition. As the fish become immobilized. NOTE Anesthetics administered to food fish must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Sustained Anesthesia Under suitable conditions. Tidepools and Ponds Anesthetics are useful when collecting fish in tidepools. because a moderate amount of surge in the pool helps to flush anesthetized fish out of crevices. Choosing the proper anesthetic with regard to toxicity and stability is critical. it may be necessary to move them gently to and fro in their normal swimming position. fish can be sustained safely under anesthesia for several days. Filtration may be required to maintain water quality (Klontz and Smith 1968). The water in which the fish is being revived must be of good quality. angelfish and butterflyfish are highly susceptible. and moray eels are highly resistant. 1998). To perform surgery on captured fish. Generally. It is desirable to collect fish from tidepools as the tide is rising. where they can be confined Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-43 .14. Quinaldine (1~20 percent) is used widely for this purpose. uncontrolled swimming movements. more sophisticated procedures are required. this is usually the case when the yellowtail Seriola dorsalis recovers from quinaldine anesthesia. The level of anesthesia can be controlled carefully by selectively recirculating water from the baths over the fish’s gills. particularly in field work. quinaldine generally cannot be used to induce the sedation stage. the mortality of uncollected specimens can be reduced to a negligible level (Gibson 1967.3 Application of Anesthetics If an anesthetic is administered in high enough dosages. For example. and then the desired dose of anesthetic is calculated and added to the pool. or under rocks. 9.05 quart (0. rendering it dangerous or fatal to eat. Violations of these regulations carry severe penalties. With the proper anesthetic and dose. or it may toxify fish flesh. and some chemicals are much more repellent to fish than others. Several anesthetics that are unsuitable for sustained anesthesia are satisfactory for rapid immobilization. squirrelfish are moderately susceptible. and steps must be taken in such a situation to prevent self-inflicted injuries. The fish is then removed to untreated water for recovery. the fish should then be placed in a trough or other restraining device.

temperature. A power syringe is available that allows oral anesthetics to be delivered through a probe. and other institutions have also demonstrated that many other species that have not yet been subjected to formal experimentation can be collected safely and handled without significant mortality. Fish can also be anesthetized by injection. Scientists at the Scripps Aquarium have developed a successful system for collecting garden eels of the Taenioconger species.05 qt. species of fish. such as a piece of aquarium air line. A noxious chemical can be added to some non-repellent anesthetics to ensure that the fish emerges. while Harvey (1986) has used it to collect moray eels and jacks. Denny. Most aquatic biologists concerned with collecting agree that judiciously applied anesthetics are useful collecting agents.000 ppm tricaine solution successfully in this situation. and Bruecker (1986) have successfully immobilized small sharks and ratfish with this technique. although the dosage and time of exposure may have to be varied. primarily because of concern about the delayed toxicity of the anesthetic agents. Some species of fish such as wrasse and hawkfish reside in coral at night and can be collected easily at that time with the aid of anesthetics. A piece of clear plastic. shows much promise. Professional aquarists at Scripps Aquarium. the misuse of these chemicals. Handling Large Fish Sharks or other large fish captured by hook may be immobilized by spraying a strong anesthetic solution directly over their gills before bringing them aboard. to immobilize fish during transit. including the type of anesthetic. A survey of the literature indicates that. Summary The use of anesthetics as collecting agents for aquarium fish is controversial.48). with conflicting results. The effectiveness of this approach depends on a number of factors. Steinhart Aquarium.6 ft. However. because otherwise the fish might become anesthetized in the burrow and remain out of range. after which the sedated and immobilized eels are gathered gently by hand. which were previously difficult to collect. This technique can be applied to other burrowing species. (2 m) square. Procedures to free entangled divers should be planned in advance. Since most fish can be transported successfully without the use of anesthetics. is placed over the area of the eels’ burrows and weighted down along the edges with sand. 6. time in transit. in the majority of species experimentally subjected to repeated anesthetization. preconditioning of fish. (1 liter) of 13 percent quinaldine solution in ethanol is applied under the plastic. with a manual “slurp” gun (see Figure 9. A single collection in a well-developed colony may yield more than 20 eels. Fish in burrows are often difficult to collect with anesthetics because the burrows are so deep that the fish cannot be reached by discharging anesthetic from a squeeze bottle. Large-Scale Collections One technique used to collect fish over a large portion of a reef is to enclose the desired area with a seine and to administer a large enough quantity of anesthetic to immobilize the enclosed population rapidly. This device permits the diver to deliver the anesthetic at closer range to more species of fish than can be done using a squeeze bottle. Divers should work as a team to recover the fish because of the danger of the divers becoming entangled in the net. delayed mortality is negligible. Gilbert and Wood (1957 ) used a 1. especially if FIGURE 9. The anesthetic is usually dispensed from a squeeze bottle in sufficient quantity to immobilize or partially immobilize specimens on the first application. administered by a laser-sighted underwater dart gun. to the bottle may provide an adequate extension to reach into the burrow. The anesthetic should have repellent qualities that will cause the fish to emerge.within the anesthetic’s influence for several seconds. Harvey. information on the appropriateness of using anesthetics during transit should be obtained from the literature or by experimentation before attempting the procedure. and this delivery system may make the more expensive anesthetics practical to use for collecting. in the case of small specimens.48 Slurp Gun Used to Collect Small Fish 9-44 NOAA Diving Manual . a veterinary anesthetic. Coral Heads It usually is advantageous to enclose coral heads with a loose-fitting net before applying the anesthetic. Sedentary specimens can sometimes be collected by slowly trickling a light anesthetic dose downstream toward them. The area is then left undisturbed for 20 minutes. Marliave. Approximately 1. a recently developed technique utilizing Saffan®. Transportation Anesthetics have been used. Although earlier attempts at collecting fish with projectile-mounted syringes were limited in their success. The fish can then be collected with a hand net or. Attaching tubing. and water quality.

Quinaldine is not useful where sedation-level anesthesia is the goal. to capture it. A better technique than the bottle is the use of a piece of plastic core liner or plastic tube with a screen across one end. however. or a cylinder made of plastic. When a mixture of the salt and Tricaine® is prepared in proper proportions. As discussed earlier. can be very harmful. The fish are then moved into a holding container. Animals such as sea urchins may be broken up and placed near the net to attract fish. aluminum. Diurnal variations may also cause the fish to change their habitats during a 24-hour period. which greatly facilitates its use. Procedures for Scientific Dives 9-45 . Propoxate® and its analog Etomidate® are two relatively new and highly potent fish anesthetics that have potential as anesthetics for fish collection. or other means. Animals that live in the upper few centimeters of sediment or sandy bottom may be sampled by using either a scope. Electric fish and rays should not be taken with metal poles or rods because of the shock potential (see Chapter 20). the diver using a slurp gun (see Figure 9. or Ziplock® bags. It is of low solubility in water and is generally dissolved in acetone. 9. and placed in an appropriate container. ethyl alcohol. Deepwater fish can be caught on hook and line and reeled to 60 – 100 ft. The fish may be pinned against a rock or sand bottom. These may be tied over ends of plastic tubes as a sieve or be sewn into a bag to be used to hold sediment samples.2 shows the commonly used fish anesthetics. All bottles must be flooded fully with water before being submerged. while others live in schools and roam widely. Recommendations Tricaine® (MS-222) is a highly soluble and virtually odorless powder that is easy to use. and the gun is readied for another shot. is ill-advised and has resulted in human deaths.48) pulls the trigger. These are powered either by rubber tubing. lobsters. Divers on the bottom can also use small gill nets. Table 9. A pry bar. Conventional methods of capture such as seining. (18. drawing the plunger back and sucking a large volume of water in through a small opening and thus pulling small fish one–three inches (2. Traps are effective for crabs.3 – 30. and there is an extensive literature on its properties and use.6 cm) into the gun. There is an 80 percent recovery rate on many species of rock fish when this technique is used. it combines the desirable properties of both chemicals and is effective at lower doses than either alone. Divers can then remove fish from the trap and rebait it while it remains on the bottom.14. which is sometimes done in under developed countries. Invertebrates may be collected by divers wearing gloves. A simple cake server or spatula can be inserted from the side to provide a closure as the core of sediment is withdrawn from the bottom. For example. Animals that are naturally buoyant will float out of the bottle or plastic bag when it is reopened to add another specimen. Many larger fish such as rays.4 Diver-Operated Devices The capture of live fish poses no special problems for divers. Delicate animals such as nudibranchs may be placed in separate plastic jars. or divers may herd fish into the net. and long-lining are not appropriate for capturing fish around coral reefs. and a number of special techniques must be used instead. Quinaldine has been used widely to collect or handle fish. which can be slipped over fish more easily. where divers can insert hypodermic needles into those with swim bladders and then decompress the fish. Tricaine® is a good choice where sustained sedation or surgical-level anesthesia is required. A dip net fastened to the end of a pole spear is useful in collecting fish near the bottom. Once entangled. screwdriver. including their recommended dosages. stainless. and it should not be used for major surgery or other painful procedures because it is a poor pain killer. octopus. or other material that can be forced into the soft substrate. Vials and jars should be open at the beginning of the dive and completely filled with water before being returned to the surface. The disadvantages of slurp guns are the limitation of the size of the fish that can be captured. or harmless sharks may be caught either by hand or by a loop of heavy monofilament line an the end of a pole (such as a snake stick). The diameter of the cylinder should be such that it fits snugly over the mouth of the collecting bottle so the material can be forced into a labeled jar. again. Some fish are territorial and maintain discrete regions. trawling.5 m).54–7. Liquid quinaldine can be converted readily to a water-soluble salt. putty knife. fish may be withdrawn and placed in bags or wire cages. or isopropyl alcohol before use in water. occasionally. fish may react to the pressure wave created by the moving jar and swim away. usually in a hole. vials. and. but high cost generally preludes its use as a collecting agent. springs. It has proved to be a successful anesthetic in a wide variety of applications under a broad range of conditions in both freshwater and seawater. fish traps may also be effective if baited appropriately and placed at a proper point either on the bottom or in the water column. or diving knife may be useful in removing same specimens from their substrate.widespread. Glass or plastic bottles also may be used to entrap small fish. and the need to corner the fish. Nylon net bags are more easily used for collecting than bottles or plastic bags. which has a line inscribed showing a given volume. Nylon or other plastic screens can be obtained in a variety of mesh sizes. the necessity for the diver to be very close to the fish. as well as high mortality among the fish and other organisms in the vicinity. skates. After cornering a fish. the practice of using sodium cyanide to collect aquarium fish. needle decompression may be helpful. taken out of the net. An array of suction devices called slurp guns has been on the market for some time.

NOTES 9-46 NOAA Diving Manual .

U. Department of Commerce.S. Department of Commerce and Best Publishing Company.S. U. This CD-ROM product is produced and distributed by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). Visit our Web site at www.The NOAA Diving Manual was prepared jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). .ntis.gov.

. . . .2. . . . . . . . . . 10-15 10. . . 10-15 10. . . 1 Hand Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10-24 10. . . . . . . .2 Internal Buoyancy Lifts. . . 10-18 10. . 10. 7 Deepwater Towbar Search . . 10-19 10. . 4 Precision Underwater Navigation . . 10. .2. . .2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Electric Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10. . . . . . . . . . 3 Hydraulic Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 10. . . . . . . . . . . .8. . .9 UNDERWATER DEMOLITION AND EXPLOSIVES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 HYDROGRAPHIC SUPPORT . 1 Hazards to Navigation .6. . 10-18 10. . . . . . . 8 Cable Cross Search . . .7 10. . 10-22 10. . 5 Tow Diving . . . . . . . 10-19 10. . 1 Lifting Methods . .3 External Lift Bags . . . . . 10-15 10. . 10-16 10. 10-24 10. . 1 Circular Search . . . .8 SALVAGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10-16 10. . .6.3 INSTRUMENT IMPLANTATION . . . . . 6 Drift Diving . . . . . . . 1 Types of Explosives . . . . . . . . . . .6. . . 10-16 10. 10.6. . . . . .1. . . . 10-17 10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Air Lifts . . . . 10-16 10. . . 10-18 10.1 Dead Lifting . . . . . . . . . 9 Raw Position Data. . . .2 10. . . . .2. 5 Choosing and Converting Between Coordinate Systems . . . . . 10-27 10. .2. . . . . 10-27 10. . 10-14 10. . . 3 Resolving Sounding Discrepancies . 8 Environmental Variables . .10 Recovery . . . . .2. . . . . . . 6 Cutting and Welding Tools.2. .1. . . . . . . . .2 UNDERWATER NAVIGATION. . . . . . . . 2 Water Depth/Underwater Distance . 10. . . . . . . . 10-18 10. . . . 7 Installation . . . . . . . .8.1. . . .2. . . . . . . . .1.3 10. . 10-19 10. . . 10-25 10. .1 10. . . 10-21 10. 10-23 10. . . . 10-16 10. . 3 Diver Navigation Board .1. . . . . . . . 10. . . 2 Pneumatic Tools . 6 Post-Mission or Real-Time Coordinate System Conversions . . . . . . . .1. .1.1. . . .1. . . . . . . . .1 SEARCH AND RECOVERY . . . . .1. . . . .8. 9 Search Without Lines.10 Quality Control .8. . . 10-20 10. . . . . . . . 5 Power Velocity Tools . 4 Searching a Large Area. . . . . . . . 10-21 10. . . . . .7 MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR TASKS .1. . . . . . 2 Locating and Measuring Least Depths . . 10-15 10. . .9. . .5 10. . .4. . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Line-Tended (Fishtail) Search . . . . 10-12 10. . . . . . . . .2. . . . 3 Jackstay Search Pattern . . . . 10-10 10.6. . .1.4. . . . .8 10. . . . .4. . . . . . . 10-12 10. . . . . . . 10-12 10. . 10-23 10. . .Procedures for Working Dives 10 00 SECTION PAGE SECTION PAGE 10. . .5 10. . . . . 10. . 10-24 10. . . . . . . .5 WIRE DRAGGING . . . . . . . . . . 1 Basic Underwater Navigation . . 10-16 10.2.6. . .8. . . . . . . 10-28 . .1. . . . .1. . . . . . . . . . . .6 UNDERWATER TOOLS . . 10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The leeway generally is calculated at zero to ten percent of the wind speed.5Ð 1.0) 7 Ð10 (3.2) 4 (6.5) 4 Ð 6 (2. Selecting conservative values has the effect of enlarging the search radius. is: Each factor included in the total probable error is somewhat subjective. wind current. Searching the area around the datum point can be implemented using a variety of patterns.7) 16 (25. depending on the search equipment. the overlap should be minimal. knots (m/s) 1 Ð 3 (0. the navigation error of the search craft (y). Once the datum point has been defined. The search radius. The pattern should commence at a known point. depending on the area of the object exposed to the wind and the relative resistance of the object to sinking.5) 22Ð27 (11.1 Wind Speed and Current Estimations Wind Speed.4) 7 (11.5) C = total probable error The total probable error is a mathematical combination of the initial error of the object's position (x). (r). a datum point is defined. the leeway has little or no effect on the calculation of a probable location. is equal to the total probable error of position plus a safety factor. Sea currents can be estimated for a particular area using current NOAA Tidal Current Tables and Tidal Current Charts and the U.0) 11Ð16 (5. Calculation of the value and direction of leeway is highly subjective for objects that float or resist sinking. and terminate at a known end point. a small search radius is selected and repeated expansions are made around the datum point until the object is located. A good search technique ensures complete coverage of the area. sometimes. except for boats that have a tendency to drift up to 40 percent off the wind vector.5Ð10.3) 11 (17. and the drift error (de). The drift error is assumed to be one-eighth of the total drift. The total probable error.8) 21 (33.5) 28Ð33 (14. The drift in the open sea resulting from sea and wind currents. To be efficient.5Ð 5. The direction of leeway is downwind. Search patterns are implemented by carrying out search sweeps that overlap.0) 17Ð21 (8. miles/day (km) 2 (3. Systematic searching is the key to success. cover a known area. After the vectors of water current. and the leeway (movement through the water from the force of the wind) should be studied.1. Wind currents can be estimated using Table 10.5Ð 8. (C). and leeway have been added and applied to the last known position of the object. The initial step in a search is to define the general area and the limits to be searched.5 m/s]).0Ð13.1 SEARCH AND RECOVERY All search techniques rely on one common element: the adoption and execution of a defined search pattern. or the object is heavy enough to sink rapidly.0Ð16. visibility. the search radius around the datum point is selected.9) 26 (41.0Ð 3. If the search is being conducted to locate a specific object.5) Wind Current.9) 10-1 . as defined by the following formula: r = (1 + k) C where r = radius k = safety factor (between 0 .1 and 1. Navy Current Atlas of Surface Currents. or number of search vehicles involved. the last known position of the object is the starting point for defining the search area.S.Procedures for Working Dives 10 C = (de2+x2+y2)1/2 10. The datum point is the most probable position of the object. TABLE 10. if the average wind velocity is relatively low (under five knots [2. the local wind condition at the time the object was lost. however.

The divers increase the radius for the next search. a marker line should also be laid out from the same anchor as the search line. and identifies areas remaining to be searched.1. The circular search has many modifications. the visibility is good. a circle is formed in the snow. and the inside diver sweeps back and forth between the marker and the outside diver's new position. such as inland lakes and quarries. number of available divers. To determine when a 360-degree circle has been made. or a mount. The visibility. This marker line should be highly visible and should be numbered with the radial distance from the anchor. a transponder receiver unit is towed from the surface.1). and size of the object(s) to be located are prime factors in selecting the best method for a particular search. Changing positions can be done at the end of each sweep by having the outside diver hold position after moving out one visibility length. 10. When using side-scan sonar. the other diver then moves outside. the use of microprocessors simplifies the task of the observer and increases the effectiveness of a search. Positions may be changed at regular intervals if the divers become fatigued. taking up his position for the next sweep. The search may be extended by the pattern. Where current is noticeable. in which case the circling line is marked at the point where the outside diver was previously stationed. the marker line should be placed in the down current position so that the diver always commences the search from the position having the least potential for entanglement.1. Underwater object location using acoustic techniques involves divers only after the object has been detected. such as a wreck. If the search is conducted in murky water. The second acoustic method involves the use of side-scan sonar. The following procedure has been used successfully by the Michigan State Police Underwater Recovery Unit. search effectiveness can be increased by having one diver hold the circling line taut and swim the outside perimeter of the area to be searched while another diver sweeps back and forth along the taut circling line. depending on the number of divers and the thoroughness required. Onboard microprocessors to control the range/gain necessary to produce optimum display contrast are beginning to replace manual adjustment of the gain. The following diver search techniques have been useful for such applications. if the lost object is shaped so that it will snag the moving line. The outside diver then moves to a new position.1 Circular Search In conditions where the bottom is free of projections. moving out a distance that permits good visual coverage. use of the circular search technique is recommended. This procedure is continued until the outermost perimeter is reached (see Figure 10. As shown in Figure 10. Approximate object position can be determined by knowing the ship's position. and the approximate position of the transponder-receiver unit with respect to the ship. using the ice entry hole as the center pivot point. This approach is suitable for returning to the position of a known object that has high acoustic relief and is located in an otherwise relatively flat area. the direction of travel should be changed at the end of each rotation to prevent the possibility of fouling lines. and the area to be searched is small. Circular search techniques also may be used for diving through the ice in waters that have no current.clearly defines areas already searched. The divers hold the search line and swim in a circle until they return to the marker line. keeping track of the ship's position by normal surface survey methods. The circle on the ice indicates the area being searched and the approximate location of the diver who is searching under the ice. heading. farther out on the circling line. Under such favorable conditions. The search starts and finishes at the marker line. 10-2 NOAA Diving Manual . and speed. one of the acoustic surveying methods can be used. significant rock outcrop. a floating search line is anchored to the bottom or tied with a bowline around the bottom of the descent line and is used to sweep the area.1 Circular Search Pattern can be used to assign precise distances. When more than one circle is to be made with tethered divers. which ensures that a full 360 degrees has been covered. When the ice is covered with snow. The marker line Descending Line Current Marker Line Weight First Search Circle Search Line Descending Line Anchor Second Search Circle FIGURE 10. a pull on the line will tell the diver that the object has been found. When two divers are searching. Acoustic beams are broadcast left and right. The standard technique is to station two divers along the search line close to the center of the search area. If more precise determination is necessary. The first is to traverse the area being searched with a narrow beam fathometer. bottom topography. the first search will cover a full circle bounded by the outside diver's path. using a weighted line may be advisable. and the signals received are processed to present a picture of the bottom on both sides of the transponder-receiver unit. the object to be located is reasonably large. There are two acoustic approaches to underwater object location. The radius of the circle is determined by the length of line used to tend the diver.

the diver begins the first circle on the bottom. then the diver’s time in the water will be very limited and the ability of the diver to be involved in a repetitive schedule may be nonexistent. and the other end is held by the tender. In most of the waters where this type of searching is done. or hard to get to with open water techniques. the line tender is literally the diver’s eyes. the searching diver must constantly be swimming. NOTE The focus of the diverÕs attention must be on the search. however. It is an excellent method to use when close coverage is required or there is zero visibility. if underwater communication is not available. The diver then proceeds just under the ice to the full length of the line—approximately 75 ft. The following personnel and equipment items are needed for a fishtail search: • One diver with basic scuba equipment • One dive supervisor/line tender. The area will be reconnoitered and line signals reviewed. (23 m). They must understand and react to the needs of each other. with fishtail line. this is the responsibility of the line tender. The circular pattern involves only one diver that is tethered.If the object of the search is not recovered within the first marked-off area. The fishtail search is very effective in achieving thorough coverage under water. It is because of this that divers should not attempt to swim fishtail patterns in waters where there are moderate to strong currents. the tender signals the diver to descend to the bottom. not where he is going. After the diver completes one circle. while at the same time maintaining a complete search of the bottom. Once the diver has entered the water. This procedure is continued until the complete area has been searched. it is the responsibility of the line tender to insure that the area searched is complete and thorough. After the diver completes one circle without encountering any resistance. If the diver's physical condition continues to be satisfactory. The quality of coverage depends on the diver and his line tender working very close as a team. It is almost completely impossible to swim against moderate to strong currents under water while conducting search procedures. debris. Divers should automatically react to the instructions of the line tender. the diver is secured by one end of the line. If it needs to be done. This procedure can be physically exhausting as well as difficult. description. as conveyed to them through line signals or underwater voice communications. a second hole is cut in the ice and the procedure is repeated. the tender signals the diver and pulls him to a new location (within the limits of visibility). with a backup diver standing by. the diver returns to the surface and describes the underwater conditions. otherwise. keeping the line taut and staying about 6 – 8 inches (15 – 20 cm) below the ice.1. The tender must be able to communicate with the divers and get them to respond to specific directions. or a method modified to make the diver’s job easier. he should inform the supervisor/tender of the diving conditions. etc. 10. Figure 10. Alternative search methods should be considered at this point. the diver begins circling. and the pattern is repeated until the diver again reaches the hole. silt. The diver in search of an object will go directly below the hole and make a search of the immediate area. suggested length 50 – 75 ft. visibility.2 Circular Search Pattern Through Ice Procedures for Working Dives 10-3 . Although the diver is actually doing the swimming and searching. (15 – 23 m) • One standby diver The supervisor/tender will give the diver all information as to what the object of the search is. a second circle that slightly overlaps the last circle is formed on the surface. The diver should never have to worry about where they are going or when to stop. etc. If the object is not found directly below. The diver commences searching in a second circle. based on his own experience at doing the same tasks. before entering the hole.2 Line-Tended (Fishtail) Search The line-tended fishtail search is a simple method used to search identified areas that are relatively small and shallow.2 illustrates this through-the-ice search technique. The tender must also be aware of what the diver is going through.3. This technique works well when diving in areas where there are vast amounts of debris and the diver could very easily become trapped under water. the standby diver takes over and a new standby diver is designated. With the use of rope signals. With the line taut. The fishtail technique is shown in Figure 10. The supervisor/tender will determine from this information FIGURE 10.

The diver will then descend to the bottom holding a taunt line on the fishtail line.FIGURE 10. If the search area is in a river with a moderate to strong current. even if it means cutting the line. In beginning the search. This should allow the diver a chance to orient himself and make the necessary adjustments. the line may be tied to the diver. the diver should signal the line tender. The diver may have to use a 10-4 NOAA Diving Manual . the diver is pulled in until the designated area has been completely covered. This is accomplished by the diver placing the loop from the fishtail line in the opposite hand. At the end of each fishtail arc. thus eliminating the risk of the diver losing the line and having to return to the surface to retrieve it. At the conclusion of the fishtail arc. If the object is not located. If necessary. the diver should swim on the surface to the full length of the fishtail line. completely exhausting the diver. If the diver encounters vast amounts of debris and becomes trapped or confused. However. The diver and line tender should keep this in mind if they are unable to locate the object using the normal fishtail procedure. the line tender may find it necessary to modify the search technique and search the area again using a modified search technique. If the diver swims off in the wrong direction. It is important that the diver swim very slow and controlled. the diver must be able to free himself from the fishtail line in case of an emergency. there is a possibility that the object being sought could be covered with sand. as energy may be quickly expended. he can follow the fishtail line back toward the supervisor/tender. When directed. or until told to stop by the supervisor/tender. The safety diver will be deployed and instructed to follow the fishtail line to the trapped diver and render assistance.3 Arc (Fishtail) Search Pattern exactly how the diver is to proceed and how far to bring the diver in on each subsequent pass. If the diver is unable to free himself. searching for the object being sought. the supervisor/tender will signal the diver to reverse his direction and proceed back the other direction. he will be signaled by the supervisor/tender of the error. the diver should swim forward along the bottom.

the weight is moved in the direction of the search. or any number of similar operations. the scuba divers hold onto a line attached to the boat and vary their depth according to the contour of the bottom. Buoy lines run from the bottom anchor weights to the surface. beginning at one of the anchor weights. the technique is referred to as tow diving.4B). Jackstay Rectangular Search Pattern FIGURE 10. If the object is too big or heavy.1. Attaching the fishtail line to the object. It will be up to the line tender in charge and the diver to determine which method will be best for their particular situation. Procedures for Working Dives 10-5 .1. a rectangular search area is laid out and buoyed (see Figure 10. the line is moved only as far as the searching diver can reach.4 Searching a Large Area Diving from an unanchored barge. the diver takes compass bearings in the direction of the search pattern. The distance the weight is moved depends on visibility. the diver should retrieve it and bring it back to the surface. the technique is called drift diving. When scuba divers are towed from a boat that is underway. This technique is called tow diving. but the A. These tasks include inspecting a pipeline. or vessel can be an efficient method of covering a large area for search or survey purposes. Jackstay Rigging Buoy Buoy Buoy Line Buoy Line Weight Jackstay Line Weight B. Free-swimming scuba divers are inefficient at carrying out such tasks. The searching diver then swims back toward the first anchor weight along the jackstay line (see Figure 10. THE ENGINES OF THE VESSEL SHOULD BE IN NEUTRAL POSITION WHEN THE DIVERS ARE CLOSE TO THE BOAT OR ARE ENTERING OR LEAVING THE WATER.5 Tow Diving Some underwater tasks require great distances to be covered in a minimum amount of time. the weight is moved the distance the searching diver can comfortably see as he swims along the line. wet subs. The divers conducting the search descend on the buoy line and search along the ground line. the object can be marked by the diver using the fishtail line. small boat. or it may be necessary to use a metal detector. WARNING WHEN DIVING FROM A VESSEL. these are described below.tool to dig into the sand. When the searching diver reaches the other anchor weight. When a boat accompanies the diver. which allows them to make a closeup search of the area over which the boat is traveling. observing fish populations over a wide area.4 Jackstay Rigging and Rectangular Search Pattern diver is not attached to the boat and is being propelled by current alone. In some cases it may even be necessary to use both a digging tool and a metal detector. if visibility is good.3 Jackstay Search Pattern In the jackstay search pattern.4A). If visibility is poor. Towing a scuba diver behind a small boat is another method of searching a large area. or towed sleds may be used to increase scuba diver efficiency.1. such as a gardener’s hand rake. searching for a lost instrument. will allow easy relocation of the object and the diver is then free to return to the surface and get what additional equipment he may need in retrieving the object. From Diver to the Line Tender: • One pull—“Stop or I'm OK” • Two pulls—“Give Me Slack” • Three pulls—“Pull Me In” • Four pulls—“Haul Me Up” From the Line Tender to the Diver: • One pull—“Stop or Are You OK?” • Two pulls—“Change Direction” • Three pulls—“Surface” 10. 10. and a ground line is stretched along the bottom between the weights. and quicker methods of search or survey are needed. Prior to descending. Once the object being sought has been located. The following signals may be used when conducting a fishtail search pattern if underwater communications are not used. The length of the line determines the area to be covered. surveying a habitat site. Devices such as diver propulsion vehicles ( DPV ). There are procedures and safety precautions that apply to both kinds of diving. 10. The jackstay search pattern is the most effective search technique in waters with poor visibility.

which can be made in a few hours from off-the-shelf materials. The diver merely straddles the cork and hangs onto the line ahead.3 kg) lead balls are ideal because there is less likelihood that a ball will hang up on submerged objects. flare. The return line will trail behind the towed divers. or a fluked anchor for the divers to hold. with the engine in neutral. in case they become separated from the boat and tow line. A sled or aquaplane released by a diver may continue planing downward by itself and crash into the bottom. Any time one diver leaves the towline. etc. works best. so that the divers can communicate by buzzer with the tow boat. the maximum speed must be such that the diver's mask is not torn off (one–two knots). Polypropylene line should not be used because it is buoyant. the boat stops.WARNING SCUBA DIVERS BEING TOWED MUST MONITOR AND CONTROL THEIR DEPTH TO AVOID BAROTRAUMA. (15 m) long should be tied to the towline at the weights. The addition of a ‘T’ bar seat and proper balancing of the towing points permit one-handed control of the flight path. The towing pull is then between the legs and not on the hands and arms. surface marker buoys. who hang onto the towline at or near the weights. or concrete. There should be two crew members in the tow boat. the following safety precautions are recommended: • If possible. • Unless there is danger of entanglement. The equipment necessary for towing scuba divers is normally available. The height above the bottom at which the divers travel is controlled by the speed of the boat and the ability of the divers to arch their bodies and to plane up or down. backs up along the line to the cork (the boat must not pull the cork and line to the boat). A 50 ft. (15 m) return line attached to and trailing behind the aquaplane can be used to permit a diver who drops off the sled to grasp the line and return to the sled. a team of divers can be towed behind a small boat. and when the divers wish to leave the line they merely release their grip and spread their legs. the divers should carry a surface float to assist the boat crew in tracking them. The float line also can be used for signaling the divers while they are on the bottom. divers may wish occasionally to drop off the towline during traverses to investigate objects of interest.5). • If the boat is equipped with a propeller. If the diver fails to regain the return line. With an aquaplane. The dive team may operate either in tandem off the same board. • All personnel on board should be thoroughly briefed on the dive plan. When towing divers. (34 kg) of weight permits divers to reach depths of up to 90 fsw (28 msw). One of the best methods of towing divers. A single towline. 10-6 NOAA Diving Manual .3 cm) nylon 50 ft. or each diver may have a separate board attached to a yoke. As with other towing methods. • A communications system should be set up between the divers and the boat. which has no rudder or propeller. In areas where entanglement is not a problem. The divers can then hand over samples. the partner must abandon the towline and both divers must surface together. The boat should have at least a 30-hp engine and should be large enough to accommodate four or more people and the diving equipment.) especially in adverse weather conditions such as fog. • Scuba divers being towed should carry signal devices (whistle. especially if they intend to drop off the towline. Three 25-pound (11. one to operate the vessel and the other to watch for surfacing divers and to keep the towline from fouling in the boat propeller. One practical and inexpensive method of towing scuba divers involves the use of a single towline with loops. a tow bar. • Two scuba divers should be towed together. A line separate from the tow or descent line may be employed as a safety line. is to equip each arm of the yoke with a large cork float. Divers using such an apparatus should be towed at a comfortable speed (one–two knots) that will not dislodge their masks. The simplest version is a board that. steel. with a waterproof push-button switch. especially if they intend to drop off the line to observe the bottom. provides a dynamic thrust to counter the corresponding pull on the towing line.6 cm) nylon line about 200 ft. rather than a bridle. leading back to a yoke with a short line for each diver. the boat should be equipped with a "jet drive" propulsion system. and hovers. such as those used on fishing nets or mooring pickup poles. Some tow rigs have a small wire built into the towline. As soon as the cork breaks the surface. A return line of 1/2 inch (1. The towing weight should be made of two or three pieces of lead. a propeller cage or shroud should be fabricated to protect the divers. with signals agreed on and practiced prior to diving. allowing the cork to rise rapidly to the surface to let personnel in the boat know the divers are off the line. Another towline method uses the aquaplane (see Figure 10. Maneuvering by body flexing is easy. when tilted downward or sideways.3 or 1. which requires some practice and coordination. near the bubbles until the divers surface. It is important for those in the boat to know what the divers are doing. (61 m) long used with about 75 lbs. the partner should monitor the departing diver's actions until he returns and again makes contact with the towline. A towline of 1/2 or 5/8 inch (1.

10. If a weighted line is used..FIGURE 10. If the operation must be conducted in heavy currents. drift divers should carry appropriate signaling devices. Although towing is a useful way to cover a great deal of terrain. a safety boat may be used to follow the towed divers to assist them if they become separated from the towline. In this case. the hands should not be used for anything but holding on. and in deep water this could place a diver far behind the tow boat. The scope of the towline may be as much as l0-to-l. The diver must carry a surface marker buoy to assist topside personnel in tracking the diver’s position. The cork should surface at a point very close to the place where the divers dropped off the line. If the drift involves a large vessel. Divers are put into the water up stream and drift with the boat. This technique prevents the surface boat from being carried away from the survey area by current or wind. their bubbles cannot be seen from the tow boat. there are limitations and drawbacks to this technique. as described earlier. Experience has shown that there is little or no danger of losing the bubbles using this method. it is advisable to conduct a series of practice runs to determine the best combinations of boat speed. and resume the tow. The tow boat should stand by at the buoy until the divers surface. so one should not carry bulky equipment either in the hands or on the weight belt.6 Drift Diving Drift diving is used occasionally to cover a large area when there are strong currents. unless enclosed sleds are used. cameras. because the relatively slow towing speed of the boat allows the cork to surface within seconds of being released. Sample bags.5 Aquaplane for Towing Divers relate findings. If this method is not used and if. a standby buoy with an adequate anchor should be ready to be lowered slowly and carefully overboard. If the diver is a long distance behind the tow boat. As with towing scuba divers. and diver-boat signals. holding onto a line attached to the drifting boat.1. divers should enter the water as far up current as necessary and drift with the current. should be attached to the towline with quick-release snaps. During pickup. regardless of the equipment or method used. towline-yoke length. after the divers drop off a tow. etc. the boat operator should not (except in an emergency) approach the divers until the entire dive team is on the surface and has given the pickup signal. The boat's operator should bring the boat alongside the dive party on a Procedures for Working Dives 10-7 . which trails a buoy with a clearly visible diver's flag. There may be considerable drag on the body. so as not to hit the divers below. Whenever a towing operation is planned. there is a chance that they are temporarily lost. a small boat should be used to track and retrieve the divers. It is difficult to take notes or photographs while under tow. The amount of work to be accomplished and the equipment to be carried can be determined in predive practice. Until the diver leaves the towline. the scope can be reduced to about 4-to-1.

Divers should enter the water only after the engine(s) is in neutral or shut off. the divers should hang onto the bar with one hand and search the bottom with their free hand. When attached to each side of the vessel. • Vessel Propulsion: Regardless of the design of the craft being used as the tow vessel. 150. The towline pulley moves freely along the tow harness while attached to the end of the towline. It should have a large open rear deck area which will allow freedom of movement for the line tender and safety divers. WARNING THE TOWING OF SCUBA DIVERS OR DRIFT DIVING SHOULD NEVER BE DONE WITH INEXPERIENCED PERSONNEL. The divers should establish neutral buoyancy. the boat's motor should be in idle during pickup. Either white or yellow line should be used for increased visibility. the divers should signal the surface. The bar should be constructed so that it protects the diver’s hands should debris be encountered and struck by the towbar. The bar may be constructed of either metal pipe or schedule 80 plastic pipe (pvc). and the dive tender should assist the divers aboard. In all cases. • Towbar: The towbar is a device that the searching divers hang on to.1. and 300 ft. There should not be any slack in any of the three attachment lines. then a towline pulley should also be used. Movement of the pulley along the tow harness allows the boat operator maximum maneuverability when towing. Using the towbar search method in zero visibility conditions requires careful planning and knowledge of debris which may interfere with a safe operation. The towing vessel should then position itself just outside either side of the quadrant and the towbar is placed in the water and lowered to the bottom. The following equipment items are needed for a towbar search: • Tow Vessel: The towing vessel should be large enough to comfortably handle the team of divers and their equipment. • Boat Tow Harness: The tow harness is a short line attached to each side of the vessel at the stern cleats of the towing rings. • Towbar Harness: The towbar harness should attach to the towline at the diver’s end. • Towline: The towline used in this type of operation should be a minimum of 5/8 inch diameter braided non-stretch line. In the event that the divers are working in zero visibility conditions.6). See Figure 10. one at each corner. This method can be used if a tow post is not available. After reaching the towbar. as well as having adequate power in case of rough seas. gradually increasing speed as directed by the divers. Generally. in length. This method is most effective when searching divers have at least minimal visibility. it is still possible to be successful in zero visibility conditions. to form a square or rectangle (see Figure 10.7 Deepwater Towbar Search The deepwater towbar search technique is used for searching large bodies of water when searching divers are required to locate relatively large objects. 10. with the propeller in neutral. This will help prevent “silt-out” conditions and allow divers to maintain visibility. A signal line should be attached even if underwater communication is used to serve as a backup should the underwater communications fail during towbar operations. the craft should be equipped with an engine rated no less than 80 hp. The harness is attached at both ends of the bar as well as in the middle of the towbar. The divers must maintain a position behind the shrouded handle of the towbar to help protect themselves from debris that might be struck during towbar operations. the maximum speed for such towing is 1 – 2 knots. If line signals are used.5 knots). their readiness to begin the search. The search area is identified by positioning four buoy markers. (15. The boat operator will then begin towing the divers slowly (. 10-8 NOAA Diving Manual . Only experienced and knowledgeable divers should be used under these conditions. The towbar harness is also attached to the towbar at three separate locations. but it should never be less than three times the depth of water in which the divers are working. however. thus distributing the load equally between all three attachment points (see Figure 10. • Signal Line: A signal line should be tied to the towline approximately 3 – 5 inches from where the towline attaches to the towline pulley. respectively). For best results the craft should not be less than 17 ft. It is important that the harness be attached in the middle to add strength to the towbar should debris be struck while towing. The vessel should be highly maneuverable. If a tow post is used. and 91 m. the divers should give the line tender two hard tugs on the line. allowing them to stay off the bottom while still being able to see the bottom.6 for details on the towbar. The suggested lengths of towline are 50. The divers will then follow the towline to the bottom where they will hang on to the towbar and wait to begin the search. it must be long enough to extend around the engine and still remain free. 46.7). by voice communication or line signal. The length of the line may vary.downwind or down current side. • Towline Pulley: If a tow post is not available and it is necessary to use a tow harness. the signal line may be attached approximately 3–5 inches from the tow post on the towline. Eye bolts should be used at the attachment points for the towbar harness.

the operator will have to back up the boat to give the line tender slack in the line. If one of the divers locates the object of the search. If in heavy current. the operator will then go forward while turning the boat 180 degrees. While hanging onto the towbar with one hand. The partner should then give assistance in bringing the object back to the surface.6 Towbar Construction Once the tow vessel has reached the end of the search pattern. At the ÒTÓ the two-foot sections are bolted allowing the owt bar to be shortened if desired. the boat operator will turn the vessel around by using a series of maneuvers that allow the boat to be placed in a position for the next pass. a 20-inch piece of pipe can be placed between the divers legs and secured to the towbar with the appropriate length of rope. It is very important that the harness pulls equally on all three eye bolts. The divers should hang onto this line to help prevent the line from becoming entangled on the first stage of their scuba regulators. 4 ft. 10 ft. All four corners are glued. The rope harness is secured to the towbar with eye bolts. he should immediately signal the dive partner by shaking the bar. the divers should signal each other to let one another know everything is okay. When the vessel is turning on the surface.Tow Line The inside of the “T” is bolted Eye bolts Glued Rope Harness 90° Elbows 2 ft. if needed. Schedule 80 PVC pipe is used throughout. At the end of each pass. In limited visibility the divers will find it necessary to signal one another by grabbing the other diver’s hand and shaking from side to side to let one another know everything is okay. the line tender must pull in excess line and keep it from becoming entangled in the propeller(s). 2 ft. Procedures for Working Dives 10-9 . or securing weight to the center of the towbar near the center eye bolt. After enough slack is obtained. This position should be maintained until the towbar flips over and is positioned for the next pass. Once the vessel has been turned and is heading in the opposite direction for a new pass. Weight can be added to the towbar. by pouring cement in the leading edge pipe. allowing the boat to proceed in the opposite direction. To accomplish this. this should help relieve diver fatigue caused from hanging onto the towbar. if necessary. While the boat is being backed up to obtain slack. the other hand should hold onto the towbar harness. If there is a problem. FIGURE 10. the line tender must let the excess line back out to re-establish tension on the towline. the diver should point the other diver’s hand in the direction of the surface to let him know it is necessary to surface. the divers should move out to the end of the towbar. the rest of the ÒTÓ is glued (see blow up of ÒTÓ section above).

1. or a towing vessel in a river from being able to hold position or maintain maneuverability. situation.8 Cable Cross Search The cable cross search (see Figure 10. Divers to Surface: • One pull —The boat is going too fast • Two pulls —The boat is going too slow • Three pulls — Stop • Four pulls — Divers in trouble. even if the dive partner does not need assistance in bringing the object to the surface. The following towline signals can be used when conducting a towbar search and voice communication is not used. send safety divers Surface to Divers: • Three pulls — From the line tender. all divers should return to the surface together.  Starting Point Search Area Witness Buoy Markers Current Finish Point  = Witness Buoy   = Perimeter Buoy Markers Out Lining Search Area FIGURE 10.7 Towbar Search Method NOTE In all cases. or circumstance in which he is not comfortable or capable of performing the required skill or task. 10. either diver may terminate the dive for any condition. 10-10 NOAA Diving Manual .8) is intended to be used strictly for narrow waterways where there is a strong current which prevents a diver from swimming a designated pattern. divers are to surface Divers on the towbar should conclude the dive or abort if any of the following circumstances occur: • The object of the search is located • When one of the divers’ scuba cylinder reaches 500 psig pressure • The diver or dive team experiences problems which they are not able to correct • Either diver gets cold or fatigued • There is an equipment malfunction Additionally.

with practice an experienced team can quickly set up the river area to be searched or change location with minimal delay.” the come-a-long should be equipped with 1/4-inch steel cable. • One pulley wheel attached to the cable that will be crossing the river. 150. • At least one cable stretcher. Procedures for Working Dives 10-11 .300 lbs. Depending upon the width of the river. from one side of the river to the other. and 200 ft. This line is separate from the line with the loops (drop line) and can be pulled in either direction. then each line is stretched to opposite sides of the river.300 lbs. hydroelectric dams. such as diving near water falls. One end of each line is secured to the pulley wheel. This pulley must be capable of moving freely along the cable. • Two 36-inch lengths of 3/8-inch logging chain. the line should not be less than 5/8 inch diameter by 100 ft. 100. a dive team should have cable in lengths of 50. available to them. it should be capable of withstanding a very heavy pull. in and around heavy debris. are suggested.8 Cable Crossing Search Technique The cable cross search technique is an extremely effective and dependable method for ensuring complete and accurate coverage. in length. this cable must be looped at each end around a cable thimble. • Traverse lines in two lengths of 5/8 inch diameter in lengths of 75. but should not be more than 5 ft. commonly referred to as a “come-a-long.Come-a-long Chain 1/4-inch steel cable Pulley with carabiner. 150. 1/4 inch diameter with a minimum tensile strength of 2. or 300 ft. The following equipment is necessary for a team of divers to conduct a cable cross search: • Steel cable. This search method is very flexible and can be modified to fit varying conditions. Although it does take a considerable amount of time to set up. for rope attachment Chain Traverse line used for pulling diver across. and waters with varying degrees of visibility. apart. 75. strong currents. Loops used to drop diver back on each successive pass Hand hold for diver FIGURE 10. with a tensile strength of 2. then the cable is secured to itself with not less than three cable clamps. one chain is used for each side of the river. • A drop line from the pulley wheel to the water. Hand hold loops (slipknot) should be placed in the line equal to the diver’s visibility.

however. One meter positioning accuracy is routinely achieved and measurements down to a few centimeters resolution are possible in some cases. The pulley wheel is attached to the cable stretched across the river. The traverse pull line is stretched across the river. Signal run time indicates the distance of the obstacle which is displayed on a readout. Other functions include tracking of diver movements from a surface station and the exchange of e-mail style messages between divers and the surface station. The come-a-long is used to draw the cable very taut. and measure the length of a side in one-minute intervals or 50 kicks. (31 – 198 m). A line that is not substantially longer than the depth of the water being searched and that has a small buoy attached should be carried to the spot to mark the located object. • Long baseline acoustic positioning systems are well suited for underwater surveys and other tasks requiring precise diver navigation. the steel cable is stretched across the river just slightly up stream.. The cable is then secured to the other side of the river. The diver sonar emits a signal which bounces off the obstacle.10. Smart pingers extend battery life to several months or even years by pinging only during programmed time periods. depending on model. Once the area of the river to be searched has been identified. When a lift is used.9). • Short baseline and ultra short baseline positioning systems use shipboard-mounted sonar transducers instead of baseline stations. Some diver sonars are equipped with a headset. West. an experienced diver can discern the nature of the object. The drop line is attached to the pulley wheel. East. This simplifies system deployment but also results in reduced accuracy. The key to a successful dive operation is the selection of a system or method of navigation that is appropriate for the task at 10-12 NOAA Diving Manual .2). simplicity of pattern is important. a search can be conducted using an underwater compass.12).9—10. the diver will be held steady against the rushing current by the drop line. acoustic transponders called baseline stations are deployed near the corners of a work site. such as a tree. hand (see Table 10. The pinger emits sonar signals which are detected by the directional pinger receiver. The transponder interrogator measures signal run time to compute distance. while larger items require lifting devices. • Diver-operated transponders and transponder interrogators may be used where a more precise range to target is required (see Figure 10. The steel cable should be secured on one side of the river by attaching it to some type of immovable object. South. 10. indicates the margin of error of a position fix and offers the ability to associate diver observations with position fixes.1.2 UNDERWATER NAVIGATION With the introduction of several new navigation systems in recent years. measuring signal run time and computing the distance to each baseline station. and should turn the same way each time. AquaMap®.11).• Depending on the diver and speed of the current. Pinger systems may be optimized for specialized applications. a commercial system optimized for scientific use. The diver is then slowly pulled across the river by the team from the opposite side of the river. again attaching it to an immovable object. The maximum range of diver sonars varies from 100 – 650 ft. Some pinger receivers convert signal strength to an approximate distance to target. Once the diver has reached the last loop at the end of the drop line. Upon entering the water. The diver station converts the distance data into a precise position which is displayed on a small data screen or signaled through a headset. with hand hold loops already placed in the drop line. Prior to operations. There are several search patterns that will ensure maximum coverage.1. The diver points the receiver around until the optical or audible receiver readout indicates the strongest signal. he should not drop down on the line to the next hand hold loop until the pass has been completed. A diver station interrogates these transponders. Divers should use the cardinal points North. This will enable the diver to scan the river bottom for the object. divers now have a choice of technologies ranging from precision navigation and survey systems to low cost homing devices. 10. the diver may elect to add additional weight to his weight belt. During the time that a diver is being pulled across the river. the diver should inform surface tenders of what he is finding and any other unusual problems that will be useful to the next diver. The team pulling the diver must do so slowly but consistently.10 Recovery The method chosen to recover a lost object depends on its size and weight. the cable must be repositioned further down stream using the same techniques as described earlier. • Diver-operated active sonar systems provide a means for measuring distance to the sea floor or to other large obstacles (see Figures 10. conditions and the size of the object. the diver must attach lifting straps and equipment to the item being recovered. At the end of the first pass.9 Search Without Lines When conditions are such that search lines cannot be used. The pinger is located by swimming in that direction. 10. Small items can be carried directly to the surface by the diver. 10. A list of some of the new systems available to divers follows: • Pingers and diver-operated pinger receivers provide a simple and effective means of returning to a dive boat or habitat or finding an instrument or any other marked location (see Figures 10. By listening to the reflected signal.

one meter accuracy at up to 1000 meters 3-dimensional positions or range and bearing. divers should be familiar with the principles of basic navigation using underwater landmarks as well as compass. depth finding Military. basic navigation provides a valuable ‘ground truthing’ for other navigation methods which are always subject to failure. must be reckoning. reliable Limited accuracy. underwater measurements Precision survey.2 A Comparison Of Diver Navigation Technologies Despite the availability of many “high-tech” navigation systems. range up to 1000 meters Direction and precise range to target. diver navigation.1 meter accuracy. These receivers are equipped with a floating antenna on a thin cable. 1 to 0. diver supervision Active sonar Find and classify unmarked objects Underwater GPS Doppler velocity log Limited range smaller objects may be missed Worldwide operation Limited accuracy. range up to 1000 meters. error about 1percent of run distance Range and bearing Advantages Low cost. diver navigation and tracking Short and ultra short baseline positioning No setup prior to operations. higher cost than pingers Requires setup prior to operations Typical Applications Returning to boat or habitat. marking and finding equipment Marking and finding equipment. If the antenna is raised to within 2 inch of the surface. only rough distance data Will only find marked objects or locations. diver navigation. The position data is displayed on the diver station screen. easy to use Limitations Will only find marked objects or location. The receivers are targeted to the military market where the use of a passive navigation receiver offers a stealth advantage over active sonar systems. TABLE 10. 10 meter accuracy with military version Speed and heading. interest primarily from military sector Basic navigation backup to other systems Compass and watch Procedures for Working Dives 10-13 . precise distance but less precise direction Distance and direction of obstacle. stealth Little or no diver use yet. Technology Pingers and pinger receivers Navigation Data Direction and approximate distance to pinger. easy to use Long baseline positioning High precision. drift Search and recovery. increasing error stealth over time (drift) Lowest cost. antenna must be without setup raised within 5 cm of surface A form of dead Costly. diver navigation and tracking Less accurate than long baseline Rough survey. range up to 1000 meter 3-dimensional positions or range and bearing. These often will be the only tools needed for relatively short underwater excursions. and depth gauge. range up to 200 meters 3-dimensional positions. unlimited range. it can pick up the signals from GPS satellites. watch. therefore mounted on sled.• GPS satellite navigation receivers involve the use of non-acoustic approach to underwater navigation by divers. In more extensive dive operations. diver supervision Transponders and interrogators Simple way to measure distances.

Much navigation can be accomplished by observing the environment. For example. A simple method of achieving this with a wrist mounted compass is for the diver to extend the arm that does not have the compass on it straight in front of them and then to grasp this arm with the other hand (see Figure 10. Be aware that metal items and dive instruments close to the compass may cause an incorrect compass reading. A basic knowledge of underwater features will help as well. these are the only instruments needed. Even when using advanced navigation instruments. patches of kelp and similar objects. When visibility allows it. The axis of the compass must be parallel to the direction of travel in order to swim an accurate compass course.9 Diver-Operated Transponder and Transponder Interrogator FIGURE 10. More precise navigation and even some basic measurements are possible by using a compass and watch. To measure a distance. It is strongly recommended that the diver practice on land by walking compass courses prior to using a compass under water.2. etc. the diver first finds his average swim speed by measuring the time it takes them to cover a 10-14 NOAA Diving Manual . For most short excursions.11).10 Diver-Operated Active Sonar System 10. wave ripples in the sand typically run parallel to the shore and the sea floor normally slopes up toward the shore. then holding the compass in a horizontal position in front of him (note that compasses are prone to jamming if not kept horizontal). The diver starts by taking a compass bearing. This is called natural navigation.Compass FIGURE 10. basic navigation skills provide an important backup.1 Basic Underwater Navigation Basic underwater navigation by means of simple observation or use of a compass and depth gauge remains a fundamental and essential skill for all divers.).11 Proper Technique for Compass Navigation FIGURE 10. then swim towards it. Swimming in this position will help the diver maintain a straight course and also provides a measure of protection against collision with objects in extremely poor visibility. the diver should note a point in the direction they wish to go. sandy. big coral heads. Note the depth at the start of the dive along with the composition of the sea floor (rocky. Note important underwater landmarks such as boulders. A compass reading should be taken to the next point and so on. Notice the direction of the current. Make a mental note of the time taken to swim from one landmark to the next.

and an underwater compass on a rugged and lightweight board (see Figure 10. chronometer.5 Choosing and Converting Between Coordinate Systems Acoustic positioning systems generate position fixes that are relative to the location of their baseline network or transducer array.1 meters are possible for smaller survey grids. 10.e.2 Water Depth/Underwater Distance Sonar devices are available to determine water depth with a simple push of a button and are reliable and rugged. 12 Sonar Receiver and Beacon FIGURE 10 . Use this simple formula: S=D/T where S = speed of advance in feet or meters per minute D= distance covered in feet or meters T = transit time in minutes Next.13). or assessing the impact of an oil spill all require high positioning accuracy.2.2. 13 Diver Navigation Board integrates a digital depth gauge. in particular long baseline systems. Acoustic positioning technology.2. Using this technique and making only right angle turns will help a diver draw a mental map (or on a slate) showing current position relative to the start point. i. can achieve submeter accuracy over distances approaching one kilometer. making a 90 degree right turn after each leg. Careful attention must be paid to the planning and execution of the project as well as the interpretation of the data. 10.2. Use this formula to find the approximate distance: D=S×T To navigate in poor visibility. the location of points relative to each other is accurate. If the data is to withstand the scrutiny of scientific or legal opinion. These handheld instrument also measures the distance under water from the diver position to any object. the project leader must know navigation system. However. the diver notes swimming times and directions. obtaining accurate and reliable survey data is not just a matter of reading numbers off a dive instrument. A coordinate of [X=201.FIGURE 10 .4 Precision Underwater Navigation Precision navigation is of increasing importance in the marine sciences. or the distance up to the surface vessel (see Figure 10.Y=-40] for example. or how much further down the bottom is. Resolutions of better than 0..3 Diver Navigation Board A navigational board may be used for divers who must navigate under water. The diver should be able to navigate in a square and return close to the starting point by swimming four legs for the same amount of time. indicates the point 201 meters along and 40 meters to the right of the imaginary line originating at the first baseline station and extending towards the second baseline station. 10. Conversion of relative position fixes to latitude and longitude or a similar coordinate system is possible by surveying the point of origin and the orientation of the baseline network known distance at an easily maintained pace. Mapping an archeological site. use a timer or watch to note the time it takes to swim a measured distance. 10. Baseline relative positioning will produce data sets that are consistent in themselves.12). studying populations of shell fish. This navigation system Procedures for Working Dives 10-15 .

This assures that at least two stations will always appear at an approximate right angle from the diver's viewpoint. The characteristics of any discrepancy should be reviewed if it exceeds the expected amount. Sound speed varies about seven percent from 0–30 degrees Celsius and about three percent from freshwater to seawater. The choice of a poor baseline geometry or movement of baseline stations are some of several factors that will result in poor repeatability. 10. 10.2. Such automatic conversion should be used to compensate for the movement of a vessel or platform on which a positioning system is established. Several mathematical steps are involved in the conversion. and attachment points • The available power supply and instrument readout cables. Yet.2. 10. If a station measures temperature to estimate speed of sound. Factors affecting the success of implantation include: • The instrument's size and weight. an incorrect sound speed estimation.2.10 Quality Control A position fix is of little significance if the margin of error is not known. Thus a +/. mounting dimensions. By recording the raw components of a position fix. salinity. The separation of short baseline transducers should be maximized and the surface vessel positioned so that the diver will operate broadside to the longest baseline. it must “see” the correct temperature.1 meter acoustic fix will easily be overshadowed by an associated +/. reducing its repeatability. or other means. To check positioning accuracy. This is necessary and should be done only when operating from a moving boat (short and ultra short baseline systems). The geometry of the installation must also be considered. others measure these parameters.3 INSTRUMENT IMPLANTATION The proper implantation of scientific instruments is important to the success of underwater scientific investigations.or transducer array. Sufficient flotation should be used to minimize movement or mount baseline stations on rigid rods that are driven into the ocean floor. To verify positioning repeatability. These may be caused by an unreliable range measurement. differential GPS.8 Environmental Variables Acoustic position fixes are only as accurate as a system’s estimation of the speed of sound. radiometers. thermistors.1 meter DGPS fix. If the error is similar for all positions. then the point of origin of the acoustic system or the surface system (for example the differential GPS base station) may have been surveyed incorrectly. it is inappropriate when a sea floor anchored long baseline network is used or when operating from a fixed platform. the “jitter” inherent in any sequence of DGPS position fixes taken from the same point will be imposed on the survey data. When doing repeat studies in the same location. setup must be reverified. If the error is too large.2. positioning stakes. it is possible to retain the option of later correcting hidden errors. or (if self-contained) the frequency with which the instrument's batteries must be changed or the instrument must be serviced or replaced 10-16 NOAA Diving Manual . 10. Some positioning systems are configured to assume a certain water temperature and salinity. the baseline station must be marked on the first study and used on all follow-up studies.2. Sound speed estimation is not critical if the survey looks at the relative location of objects and not the exact distance between objects. In long baseline systems. position fixes generated with the acoustic system should be compared to measurements of the same positions generated by laser sighting. Instruments that are implanted on the sea bottom include lights. Baseline stations are small cylinders that are often anchored to the ocean floor by a line. and depth. a corresponding error will appear in the data. and acoustical devices. In these cases. multiple fixes should be taken at the same spot. If a baseline station moves due to surge or current. carefully survey the acoustic positioning system's point of origin and orientation once. 10. A wrong estimation of the speed of sound is the likely cause of the discrepancy if it increases proportional to the distance from the acoustic positioning system's point of origin. then the typical error computed (some positioning systems will compute typical or RMS position errors automatically). Signal path distortions seen by the surface or acoustic system may result in persistent or fluctuating position specific discrepancies.9 Raw Position Data Acoustic long and short baseline positioning systems measure signal run times and depths which are then converted into X and Y coordinates. Be aware that the error of the converted position fix will be the vector sum of the errors of the surface and the underwater position fixes. three baseline stations are located near the corners of a rectangular work site. optimizing accuracy. fragility. when assembling a composite of multiple data sets. oxygen sensors. cameras. 10. or even a flaw in the mathematical conversion process.7 Installation The baseline network or transducer array of an acoustic positioning system is its navigation reference. then buoyed by a flotation collar to float in mid-water.6 Post-Mission or Real-Time Coordinate System Conversions Acoustic positioning systems may be connected to a differential GPS receiver for automatic conversion of baseline relative position fixes into latitude and longitude. or when data must be plotted on independently generated charts. recording current meters.0. Instead. Speed of sound depends on water temperature. then apply that same offset and orientation to all data points.

The two stakes and the attached line then act as the reference point for aligning the foundation or instrument. When the foundation is complete.• The alignment of the instrument in position. Procedures for Working Dives 10-17 . The instrument site should be reinspected at frequent intervals to monitor the condition of the instrument and to clear away sediment or marine growth that may affect instrument readings. If a pinger-equipped instrument is believed to be lost in the vicinity of implantation. therefore. Before selecting a location for an instrument. the concrete block and instrument can be moved to the site separately. and accidental release. Although surface or subsurface buoys (used in combination with GPS satellite navigation systems) are the most common relocation devices. or fathometers. 10. and the type of marine life • The precise markings of instrument location and the methods used for recovery at completion of the mission The size and weight of the instrument and its physical dimensions and fragility affect the type of anchor used and the techniques chosen to move the instrument to the site. and then hang a compass from the line or wire. electronic pingers. During the installation of instrument cables. or it may be fitted with flotation devices and guided into position by a diver. and its sensitivity to misalignment • Bottom conditions. The alignment of the foundation is important to successful implantation. a diver is usually required to anchor the cable at various points along the cable run. and a diver can then position and align the instrument in the water. Cable anchors can either be simple weights attached to the cable or special embedment anchors. its height above the bottom. Many underwater instruments require outside power to operate and to transmit data to outside receivers. Anchoring pins or pilings may be grouted in place with concrete supplied from the surface. this precaution becomes increasingly important under conditions of reduced visibility and high currents. bottom conditions should be analyzed to identify the appropriate foundation. instruments should be used only after the effect of the anchoring system on the instrument's functioning has been calibrated. it is essential to consider the skills of the divers. Embedment anchors can be used to stabilize an instrument installation and can be driven into the bottom to secure the lines. A simple technique to achieve alignment is to drive a nonferrous stake into the bottom that has a nonferrous wire or line attached. a line or lines should be run to the surface to assist in lowering and guiding the instrument into place. Unmanned instrumentation is increasingly used for long-term data gathering and environmental monitoring tasks. fitted with fasteners on the surface. In other cases. they must be equipped with reliable relocation devices. at least for shortterm implantation. who removes the flotation device when the anchor is in position.4 HYDROGRAPHIC SUPPORT In hydrographic operations. and the availability of diver support. and resolve any sounding discrepancies identified by different surfacebased measurement techniques. Anchors should be placed at frequent intervals along the length of the cable. they can then descend and search with a hand-held locator unit. A concrete block anchor can be lowered directly into position using a winch. anticipated currents. A tape is used to translate measurements from the reference stakes and line to the foundation or the instrument. water conditions. This technique works especially well in murky water when the divers are surface supplied and use liveboating techniques. and on each side of the cable where it runs over an outcropping or rise in the bottom. For large instrument packages. Because many unmanned instruments are self-contained and expensive. these buoys are subject to vandalism. The foundation package should be designed to accept the instrument package easily so that it is as easy as possible for the diver to attach the package. Chains or wires equipped with turnbuckles can be run over the instrument package between anchors to secure the installation further. locate and measure least depths. fouling in ship propellers. Many users therefore equip these instruments with automatic pinger devices in addition to marker buoys. Steel rods create magnetic anomalies that can affect instrument readings. To reduce the possibility that the cable will topple the instrument or that movement of either the cable or instrument will break the cable connection. a surface receiver unit operated from a boat can guide divers to the approximate location. The first point of anchor should be near the instrument package. particularly if the pinger is weak and a long search is necessary. A second nonferrous stake is then driven into the bottom when the compass indicates that the alignment is correct. The diver should guide the instrument cable around any rocks or bottom debris that might abrade the cable covering. When using divers for this type of work. special equipment requirements. the bearing strength of the bottom. wherever the cable turns. The blocks can be predrilled. the diver should allow a loop (called a bight) of extra cable between the first anchor and the instrument. it is important to mark the dive site using buoys. Because hydrographic operations are frequently conducted in open water. anchors can be made of metal rods that are driven into the bottom by a diver using a sledgehammer or pneumatic impact hammer. and moved to the site as a unit and positioned. For small instruments. divers can be used to confirm the existence and/or location of hazards to navigation. the nature of the work. a concrete block may be an appropriate anchor.

10. this technique is rarely used during the initial 10. Divers need to exercise extreme caution when working around wire drags because. wire depth is recorded. its precise location can be determined using underwater search techniques. the divers should be several feet above the obstruction's depth when they enter the bight.3 Resolving Sounding Discrepancies When measurements of undersea features do not agree. the type of search. After the general location to be studied has been identified.4.1 Hazards to Navigation A significant portion of hydrographic support diving is conducted to identify hazards to navigation. or a portable. 10.2 Locating and Measuring Least Depths Divers can be used to determine least depths accurately. Once the least depth point is found. specifically designed depth gauge. one behind the other. and mark the site correctly.4. and if a diver holds the wire and it pulls loose. After arriving at the obstruction. the approximate depth needed for clearance is sought. and assist in the removal of minor obstructions. Depth gauges are checked. it should be marked with a taut-line buoy and its geographic position should be noted. along with the time of notation. When an underwater obstruction needs to be investigated. Divers supporting wire-dragging operations are used to identify: • The objects on which the wire hangs • The least depth over the obstruction • The highest protrusion that could be caught from any direction Divers can also identify underwater features that pose a hazard to fishing nets and to trawling or ground tackle. a team of divers is sent down to mark precisely the least depth by tying off a line on the bottom so that a buoy floats directly overhead. in addition to the hazards associated with any wreck diving operation. WARNING DIVERS MUST BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL WHEN WORKING INSIDE THE BIGHT OF A GROUND WIRE. especially in such areas as rocky shoals. If the least depth cannot be determined accurately. If the obstruction is not substantial. the depth at the weight can vary from its setting by as much as 10 ft. The buoy must be tied off inside the bight so as not to be torn away when the drag wire is recovered. Because of forces acting on both the wire and the upright to the buoy. it can sever the diver's fingers. Because the equipment involved is cumbersome. The reported location and geographic position of the hazard should be marked precisely. the divers swim to the buoy and descend to the bottom wire. the divers record the depth and determine whether the high point could cause the ship to hang at any point. Any time the control point is moved. the wire itself poses a hazard. After agreeing on all procedures. the equipment used. The method involves deploying a wire between two ships and holding it at depth with weights ranging from 50 – 250 lbs. and a statement describing the area that has been searched and any area that may have been missed. The depth information recorded is verified by a surfacetended pneumatic pressure gauge. This may be difficult because most drags are run with the current. The objective of this procedure is to tow the wire in such a manner that hydrodynamic forces induce an arc-shaped curve. Once on the bottom. For example. As the ships move through the water. Documentation of the search should include the geographic position of control points. and wreck sites. which tends to push the diver into the bight. Divers carry the measuring device to the highest point on the underwater object and record the pressure reading. what was found or not found. Diving operations that are designed to prove that no navigational hazard exists in a particular area are extremely time consuming and require painstaking documentation of search procedures and location. the divers proceed hand-over-hand along the wire. the move should be documented and the geographic position of the new control point should be noted. the support boat must be tied off to the buoy nearest the obstruction. the wire can cut a diver severely. When the object has been found. divers can be used to inspect the site. the wire will snag on 10-18 NOAA Diving Manual . this procedure requires the divers to leave the wire. The divers then try to find the least depth of the obstruction. faulted or volcanic bottoms. if the strands of the wire are broken. Least depth measurements are obtained with a precise digital depth gauge that measures water pressure in pounds per square inch (psi). the divers select a suitable place to tie off a small buoy. Discrepant measurements are most likely to occur in areas such as rocky substrates. problems encountered. making every effort to stay as much above the wire as possible. obstructions protruding above the depth of the drag. and reefs. and the depth of the obstruction is noted on a slate. a lead-line depth should be recorded. resolve the discrepancies. taking care to stay outside the bight of the wire. 10. If the object is intact or is a candidate for recovery. The recommended procedure is to "crab" into the current. a taut-line buoy should be used to mark the search control point. If the depth is shallower than about 50 ft. Another task performed by divers is assessing the scope of wreckage. (3 m). A taut-line buoy can be used to mark the geographic position of the least depth so that it can be noted and recorded by surface personnel. Once the general location of a navigational hazard has been identified. (22 –113 kg). if the wire slips on an obstruction. it could pin a diver.5 WIRE DRAGGING Wire dragging is a method of ensuring that surface ships can pass through an area safely. water conditions. coral reefs. Care must be taken to ensure that the lead line is plumb and that the time of marking is recorded. (15 m).4.

may be a substantial disadvantage. alteration to be used in this environment. some tasks are easier to accomplish under water because of the diver's ability to move easily in three dimensions. 10.1 Hand Tools Almost all standard hand tools can be used under water. Pneumatic tools can be modified to include a hose attachment on the exhaust that is larger in diameter than the supply hose. A disadvantage of these tools is exhaust bubbles that may disturb divers or impair their visibility under water.2 Pneumatic Tools Although pneumatic tools are rarely designed specifically for use under water. Even a relatively simple task like driving a nail can be difficult because of limited visibility. Procedures for Working Dives 10-19 . NOTE Wire-drag support diving should be done only by experienced divers who are well trained in the techniques and fully aware of the hazards.6 UNDERWATER TOOLS A fundamental aspect of accomplishing work under water is the selection of proper tools and equipment. including water resistance. Because it is easy to lose or drop tools under water. Because considerably more effort is required to swing a hammer under water than on land. The other types of screwdriver have a tendency to slip out of the screw head and damage the screw when turning. however. According to Hackman and Caudy (1981). hazards such as electric shock. 10. and a diver's inability to provide a proper amount of reaction force without adequate staging. surface-supplied pneumatic power can be used only to depths of 100 – 150 ft. To protect hand tools after use. where it discharges to atmospheric pressure. visibility restrictions.3 lists some common tools used under water. hand grips. excessive noise. Also. this procedure also may prevent diver entanglement when there is poor visibility. and other environmental factors. Because it is easier for a diver to pull than push under water. When using a hack saw under water. or bracing. They also can be attached to a descending line with a shackle to slide down the line to the job site from the surface. 10. Of the three. it is easier to develop force by pounding with the heavy weight of a sledge hammer than by swinging and hitting with a lighter hammer. In addition. Often. A single multipurpose tool can be made by welding a screwdriver blade and a pair of pliers to an adjustable wrench. equipment bulk. and they exhaust into the water. pounding.6. Table 10. which increases the likelihood that the blade will break. or reaming with hand equipment are arduous and time consuming. Having to supply tools with power and to transport them. Tasks involving grinding. The performance of divers under water is degraded by several factors. All petroleum preservatives must be removed and the tool thoroughly cleaned prior to use under water to avoid polluting the surrounding water. it is difficult to follow a straight line. along with their sources of power and available accessories. (15 m). diver buoyancy. chipping.investigation. they should be rinsed with freshwater and lubricated with a protective water-displacing lubricant. the power available in most air motors ranges from 1/8 – 25 hp. oil should be poured into the air inlet of the tool until it completely fills the motor section. A buddy-check should therefore be carried out every 50 ft. the tool should then be submerged in an oil bath to displace any water trapped in the tool. Most pneumatic tools require 90 psig of air pressure to operate. Information supplied by the manufacturer contains detailed specifications that should be carefully observed. A 2 – 4-pound short-handled hammer is a commonly used underwater tool. (31 – 46 m). time limitations. the allen type provides a longer lever arm. some of these tools have even higher speeds. In all operations. the amount of pressure available for power decreases at depth. and other potential causes of injury must be taken into account when selecting underwater tools. water viscosity. it is useful to put the blade in the saw so that the sawteeth are oriented toward the diver and the cut is made on the draw rather than the push. Screwdrivers are generally available in three configurations: the machine (or straight-slotted) type. and the allen type. Because diver safety is a primary consideration in any underwater operation. the exhaust hose is routed back to the surface. it is easy for one diver to lose track of his buddy. because only torque is required to operate it and the linear leverage necessary is minimum. the relative advantages and disadvantages of power tools and hand tools must be considered. however. Sections of the pneumatic hose where it attaches to the tool and air supply should be properly secured to prevent lashing of the tool in the event of a hose failure.6. Many hydraulic tools can be bought off-the-shelf to perform under water. Some pneumatic tools have rear exhausts. A diver's performance may therefore decrease significantly compared with his performance on land. After each day's diving. and loaded speeds range from 40 – 6. the phillips type.000 rpm. and the use of hand tools for these tasks is not practical unless the task is small. In relatively calm seas and slack current. Even with these modifications. the confined space environment. the allen screwdriver is easiest for a diver to use. they need little. they usually are carried to the work site in a canvas bag attached to the diver's arm with a line. if any. Because divers follow a wire in single file. The amount of effort that will have to be expended is an important consideration in underwater work. An added complication is the tendency of the blade to flex. and power tools can reduce the amount of physical exertion needed. a lead line may be used to verify depth information.

3 Diver Power Tools Tool Drill Impact Wrench Type Hydraulic Pneumatic Hydraulic Pneumatic Hydraulic Power velocity Power velocity Hydraulic Pneumatic Hydraulic Pneumatic Hydraulic Hydraulic Pneumatic Explosive Hydraulic Hydraulic Pneumatic Hydraulic Pneumatic Pneumatic Hydraulic Hydraulic Hydraulic Pneumatic Description/Function/Accessories Metal and wood bits to 3 inches. Several accessory chisels are available Cable Cutter Stud Driver Cutoff Saw Grinder Chain Saw Hole Cutter Milling Cutter Hacksaw Hammer Jack Hammer Spreader (Hurst Tool) Band Saw Chisels 10. Metal and wood bits. These tools include: • A cutoff saw (2.14C). are much lighter per unit of power output. handles bolts to 12 inches. Tools such as drills (Figure 10. are safer to use under water. A number of diver-operated hydraulic tools have been developed for underwater construction and salvage work. attachments for brushing. internal voids are compensated to withstand ambient pressure.000 psi. To use them. bar length to 43 inches. chain saws. hydraulic tool systems are being developed that use seawater as the working fluid in place of oil.000 psi over ambient. a diver can use harnesses or a diver's stage for support. largest tool weighs 600 pounds Pressures to 10.3 Hydraulic Tools Hydraulic tools are the most popular kind of tool with working divers because they provide consistent closedcycle power. grinding. Hydraulic tools require a power source at the surface or a submersible electrohydraulic power source that can be located under water at the work site near the diver. develops 40 ft-lb. chipping. 32-inch spread Used for cutting soft metals and cables Used for chiseling. guillotine-type cuts cable to 2 1/2 inches Guillotine-type cuts cable to 1 1/2 inches Penetrates plate from 1/4 inch to 1 1/4 inch thick 4-inch cut. 6-14 gpm. also used to drill and tap. To facilitate the field use of hydraulic tools in areas where hydraulic oil is not readily available or where environmental restrictions prohibit the discharge of oil. 6-inch to 10-inch wheels 4 1/2-inch cut Hydraulic 9-inch wheel (7 inches max.000 psi. and dissimilar metals are insulated from each other. punching. and cable or pipe cutters usually are modified versions of hydraulic tools designed for use on land. different seals are used. As with pneumatic motors. and trapping. on bolts to 3 inches. 100 Ð10..14B).000 ft-lb. have little or no depth limitation. 14-inch cut for wood. used for wood only To 4 inches in diameter Shaped charge.000 – 3. pipe Used for hammering. but require built-in batteries or an electrical umbilical from the surface to run the pump. recommended) 8-inch wheel To 15 hp. When working with these tools on the side of a structure or in the midwater column. larger tools weigh 12 Ð80 pounds 1/4 inch to 4 inches square drives. impact wrenches (Figure 10.14A). models also available for metal and pipe. 10 inch diameter by 1/8 inch thick blade) 10-20 NOAA Diving Manual . divers usually work standing on the bottom or on some structure. To convert tools for underwater use. shorter for metal. disc grinders (Figure 10. and other accessories for heavyÐduty work 3/4 inch to 2 1/2-inch square or hex drives. cuts 4-inch hole in steel up to 2 inches thick Cuts large holes up to 72 inches in diameter in bulkheads 8 1/2-inch cut for wood. star drills. external surfaces are painted or coated with a corrosion inhibitor. and require relatively little maintenance. and chiseling. These power sources are compensated to operate at depth. cutting.6. and they can be operated at different speeds.TABLE 10. delivers 1 Ð300 blows per minute Standard paving breaker Turns and reciprocates Jaws open/close with six tons force. do not produce bubbles that obscure the diver's vision. hydraulic systems have the capability to start and stop rapidly. The tools normally operate at pressures from 1.

used with discs.000 psi. Disk Grinder FIGURE 10. and manufactured. cups.000 psi and .5 Power Velocity Tools Power velocity tools are actuated by the firing of an explosive cartridge. There is. developed. 400 gpm water flow. force.4 Electric Tools Underwater tools that operate by electric power have been designed. washing. Drill • A grinder (2.S.000 psi.000 psi.000 lb. Some hydraulic tools have been designed solely for underwater use. or wire brush) • A come-along (1. 10. for example.07 gpm. 1987.000 psi. the fear of electric shock persists and constant electrical interruptions occur. used as a rigging aid) • A Hurst® tool (input of 5. or to make/break of nuts and bolts) • Linear actuators (10. Electric tools require only a small umbilical.000 psi cutters or 2 1/2-inch wire rope. Areas where progress could be made include weight reduction. five gpm hydraulic fluid. 100 psi. placement of handles at the center of gravity or wherever they will best counteract torque. and control electronics of such tools are potted in epoxy. used for drilling.A. Hydraulic tools are easy to maintain.6. The unique design uses compressibility of the hydraulic fluid to generate and store the impact energy. moves cable 1.500 psi. stator. and develops a 40 ft. The AC motor. Most tools can be reconfigured or redesigned to increase diver comfort.5 inch per stroke.5 – 3. Hydraulic tools that minimize diver fatigue and discomfort should be selected. and are reasonably light in weight. five gpm. Navy Diver Tool Manual.14 Underwater Hydraulic Tools Procedures for Working Dives 10-21 . special grips and triggers. 0. 8-ton pull-cylinders. More attention should be given to underwater human engineering principles in the design of new tools. and reduction of vibration and reaction forces. and the motor is water cooled and lubricated. jaws of tool open and close with force of six tons through a distance of 32 inches. and dredging) • Hose reels and different hydraulic power supplies An excellent source of information on the operation and maintenance of underwater hydraulic tools is the U.0 gpm.6. B. 11 gpm. a hydraulic hammer that operates on 2. used for jetting. Impact Wrench C. have no depth limitation. but they are seldom used. most divers consequently prefer to use pneumatic or hydraulic tools despite their greater weight and support equipment requirements. which increases the pressure behind a piston to accelerate a stud or a cutter into the work piece.) • Impact wrenches (2. tapping. 2. or splitting nuts) • A pump (2.000 psi rams. pound force per blow. NAVSEA #S9592-AJ-MMA-010. 10. and then sprayed with a protective lubricant such as WD– 40 ®. output speed ranges from 1 – 300 blows per minute. They should be rinsed thoroughly with freshwater after each use. 10. Although ground-fault detector circuitry is provided. rebars.

1 cm) in diameter composite umbilicals. Since habitat welding involves techniques and tools similar to those of atmospheric welding. Ventilation of gases within the workpiece and at the surface during underwater cutting and welding is essential to protect both divers and surface personnel. One of the most popular cutting method is ultrathermic. require that reloading be performed on the surface. Underwater cutting also produces potentially explosive gas mixtures. Studs are available to penetrate steel that is at least 1/4 inch thick (0. this section addresses only cutting and welding tools that are used in seawater.16). 10.Power velocity tools are used to attach padeyes. precleaning of rust. FIGURE 10. The oxy-arc process requires less training than oxy-hydrogen. The heavier duty models. burn rope.8 cm) in diameter cables or 2 inch (5. studs. WARNING ONLY PROPERLY TRAINED PERSONNEL SHOULD HANDLE EXPLOSIVE CARTRIDGES. Additionally since the maintenance of an arc is not essential. The cutters can sever 1.64 cm). combined with the very high resultant temperature enables the diver to cut both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Underwater cutting and welding processes emit toxic gases that rise to the surface and. but they require no umbilical or power line. a jet of oxygen is then directed at the heated spot and the metal burns or oxidizes very rapidly. paint. The oxy-arc torch brings both oxygen and DC electric power to the cutting rod. Electric current is not required for oxy-hydrogen. Tubular steel cutting is the other.15 Ultrathermic Oxy-Arc Torch. oxyacetylene. The process uses electric power to heat the workpiece to ignition temperature.16 Ultrathermic Oxy-Arc Process 10-22 NOAA Diving Manual . collect in any low-lying confined areas. or shielded metal-arc cutting. and hydraulic and electrical umbilicals. Cutting Rods. or marine growth is not required. concrete. Some models of underwater stud guns feature barrels that can be replaced easily by the diver. since they are heavier than air. the ultrathermic cutting rod will continue to burn as long as oxygen is supplied. as well as most cutters. Different configurations are used to cut cable. and O2 Regulator Power velocity tools are well suited to most underwater work. one of the oxy-arc processes (see Figures 10. The metal is brought to FIGURE 10.5 inch (3. This feature.15 and 10. With Ultrathermic cutting.6. Their weight is comparable to that of hydraulic tools. Once ignited. and rock.6 Cutting and Welding Tools Cutting and welding are often required both in seawater and in underwater enclosures or habitats. and to make hollow penetrations in plate steel. rebar. ONLY TRAINED DIVERS SHOULD USE THESE TOOLS ONCE THE PROPER SAFETY PRECAUTIONS HAVE BEEN TAKEN. but an ai